Music can tap into sources hidden in the mind and help listeners solve problems that once seemed insurmountable. That’s the idea behind a unique collaboration called Rising tide: the Crossroads project. It mixes the original music of composer Laura Kaminsky with the science of climate change. The Fry String Quartet brings the performance to Northern Arizona University tonight. In the latest episode of KNAU’s Eats and Beats, stories about food and music, Melissa Sevigny spoke with a scientist and a violinist about the birth of the project.
My name is Robert Davies, I am a professor of professional practice in the Department of Physics at Utah State University.
My name is Robert Waters and I am the concertmaster of the Fry Street Quartet.
Our collaboration started about 11 years ago, when I was giving public presentations on climate change—the science of climate change. It was like the information was going on an intellectual level, but the audience didn’t really understand what it meant… And I’m here at University State University and we have this amazing professional string quartet here.
All of us in the Fry Street Quartet have long been climate-conscious and sustainability-minded citizens. But as classical musicians and string quartet players, there aren’t that many ways to lend our art and our voices to this discussion in any meaningful way, other than just signing this petition and calling your senator and the like. So the idea of collaborating on something that was going to be really meaningful and potentially move some hearts and minds and be a real call to action for people – using our art to support this cause – was hugely inspiring.
Performance, which we sometimes call “performance science project”. It is a sequence of five vignettes. In each vignette, I give a poetic 5-6 minute science lecture, supported by vivid imagery from some amazing visual artists…. and then after my little conference we release this music.
Music, whether it’s sustainability or climate change or whatever a composer who writes or a performer who plays has in mind, it’s an art that has the ability to communicate something that it It’s not really possible to communicate with words. This is why almost all of humanity is addicted to music on one level or another, regardless of style… To tap into this very deep part of humanity’s emotional identity, in service of this message hugely important, I think that’s one of the reasons he was as powerful as he is.
Over the years in rewriting, where we’ve gotten to, it’s not about telling people what to do, it’s about helping them understand the mindset with which we need to move forward to be effective. And make it clear that whoever you are, whatever your talents and whatever your means, you have something to bring to this table. There is work to be done here…. What is that mindset that is going to enable you to get up and go ahead and do this work, and even do it with joy.
The Fry Street Quartet will perform “Rising Tide” tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Kitt Recital Hall at Northern Arizona University. Admission is free, with support from the Center for Ecosystem Science and Society.