Arts

National Geographic Symphony calls for change through music, visuals

The Overture Center played host to "Symphony for Our World" - both a celebration of the planet and a call to action, advocating for environmental protection. Image By: Photo Courtesy of the Overture Center

Climate change is an enormous and real threat to our world and the wildlife that inhabits it. It is becoming increasingly apparent that human actions have largely affected global health in a negative way. The National Geographic’s “A Symphony for Our World” is not only a work of art, but a wake-up call about this issue. The 90-minute symphony highlights the beauty of our world and, through its gorgeous scenic imagery and musical storytelling, demands immediate action.

The Overture Center was filled with a varied audience on March 30 when “A Symphony for Our World” blew through. It drew in a range of personas from music fanatics to nature buffs to families with children. 

The five-part symphony composed by Bleeding Fingers Music was performed by a live orchestra and chorus. Projected above the orchestra, National Geographic video clips of wildlife and natural scenery made the musical story come to life.

The show was a journey through five of Earth’s biomes: the first movement started in the sea before the second movement moved onto to the shore. The next movement traversed land, and the following feature focused up to mountains. Finally, the fifth movement took to the sky with some high-altitude views. 

The video clips were all awe-inspiring in their own way, ranging from baby pandas, which literally inspired “awes” from nearly everyone in the crowd, to majestic whales leaping out of the ocean and soaring eagles descending on unsuspecting prey. 

Some of these videos were almost delectably stunning. Glorious sunset shots and never-ending mountain top views were just some of the tastiest treats in this video medley. It was a feast for the eyes and ears.

One of my favorite moments was a whimsical tree frog sequence. High trills in the woodwinds portrayed the frog’s happy-go-lucky spirit at first, before the music swelled and intensified as the frog made a risky leap between leaves. The moment felt sweet and real, and it was heightened by the spirited orchestra.

The show evoked collective feelings of wonder, amazement and inspiration in the crowd. Interspersed with messages from professional researchers about the urgency of climate change, the visuals drove home the show’s true intended takeaway: we all need to be mindful about what we do and how it is affecting the health of our planet.

The symphony took a brief intermission near the tail end of the show, during which the focus turned to endangered species and National Geographic photographer Joel Satore’s inspiring project, The Photo Ark. A video illuminated this project’s origins, goals and motivations.

The Photo Ark is Satore’s ongoing photo series that aims to raise awareness and promote activism to save endangered species, which has been growing for 25 years and features almost 10,000 different endangered species found in human care around the world. His photos capture one endangered species at a time — animal, plant or insect — and emphasize their majestic beauty and individuality by pairing them with simplistic black or white backgrounds. 

With the intense need for global action concerning climate change and the thousands of endangered species on our Earth that are slowly dying, it was encouraging to see that the symphony was not only a masterful piece of art, but also a display of activism.

The National Geographic’s ode to the Earth, “A Symphony for Our World,” is a much-needed call to action that uses art as persuasion. It portrays the raw beauty of our natural world in such a way that anyone, after listening and watching, would feel impelled to protect it.



 Emma Hellmer is the theatre columnist for the Daily Cardinal. To read more of her work, click here.

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