I am grateful that Illuminati Vocal Arts Ensemble performed the world premiere of A Passion for the Planet in June 2019. Composed by my friend and colleague, Geoffrey Hudson, this hour-long oratorio focuses on climate change. Performing it was a deeply moving experience for all involved. An amazing chamber orchestra, members of the Hampshire Young People’s Chorus (K.C. Conlan, conductor, and also Illuminati Vocal Arts Ensemble alto), guest choristers from other adult community choruses in Western Massachusetts, and soloists Alisa Pearson and Dashon Burton joined us for the sold-out concert at Sweeney Hall in Northampton.
Geoff compiled texts from the scientific community, poetry, and sacred texts from many faiths as the libretto for this eleven-movement work. The libretto takes one on a journey from beauty and gratitude into darkness and out again into hope. When the voices of the children’s chorus entered in movement VIII with the text “What have you done with what was given you, what have you done with the blue, beautiful world?” it was heartrending. The audience even sings in the last movement of the piece, “Holy Earth, Ancient Home.” A few singers and I taught the finale to the audience before the concert. It was such a thrill and emotionally overwhelming when the audience joined in during the performance. Many were in tears.
There were numerous climate activists at the concert. I am so inspired by their great and necessary work, which should be the work of us all! We must do our part to ensure that our beautiful planet remains inhabitable. I hope that many choruses will perform this life-changing composition in the future. Click here for more information about A Passion for the Planet and Geoffrey Hudson. We recorded a demo of the piece on June 16, 2019. You can watch a video of the live performance and preview the score at the link above.
I’ll conclude this post with words of encouragement from the composer: “Singing and listening to music won’t make the climate crisis go away. But perhaps by forming an emotional connection with the topic, it can help us confront the stark realities. And when we see those realities—and truly take them in—maybe then, together, nourished by hope, we can work together to find a way forward.”