Note from the Composer
WHAT ARE WE DOING TO OUR WORLD? by Anne Phillips
“What Are We Doing to Our World?” is a moving mixture of music: Gospel, Latin, Jazz and Choral interspersed with stirring passages from writers such as John Muir, Robert Farrar Capon, Madeline L’Engle and Mark Twain that inspire sustainable environmental awareness and behavioral change.
“What Are We Doing To Our World?” began with a song inspired many years ago when I heard Jacques Cousteau say that far out to sea, he saw islands of debris. That sounded like a lyric to me. And it became one:
SOLO Rivers running black, waters without life
Pushing their way to the ocean
Oily iridescence shimmers on the beach
CHOIR And far out to sea, floating islands of debris
Oh, what are we doing to our world?
CHILD Will the songbirds fly?
Will the butterflies light upon the flow'rs in the fields of tomorrow Will the beasts of the jungles live only in books? Oh, what are we doing to our world? What are we doing to our world?
SOLO Hurricanes and floods …
The piece began through several writing opportunities: an Earth Day piece commissioned by St. Mark’s Cathedral in Minneapolis, another at St. Bartholomew’s Church in Manhattan.
Then, as I finalized the work, I produced two workshops performances. The first was at the Players Club, and most recently at the Church of the Good Shepherd in New York. It is interesting to me that so many churches are now feeling that they should speak up about Climate Change.
The workshop performances have aroused much enthusiasm, particularly in this time, when so much of what is described in the lyrics to the title song has already occurred. At Duke University, Dean Vincent of the Nicholas School of Environment and Dean Powery of the University Chapel are planning to host a co-production of the show next season at the University Chapel. It will be open to the community as well as the college. The staff of the Center for Earth Ethics at General Seminary is also very excited about it.
As powerful as the piece is when it is performed with a cast of just twelve singers, it cries out for a full production. In the recent workshop, I added three dancers, but my plan is to add a full choir and visuals. The addition of a theatrical director would add greatly to the production! So far I have been the writer, musical arranger, and have done the casting, directing and producing. It’s time for other creative minds to step in!
“What Are We Doing To Our World?” would be a powerful opening for conferences on climate change and could easily be a community production.
Thank you to Leonarda Priore and Chelsea Opera for bringing this full production to life.