Auksalaq Climate Change Opera in Houston

EcoSono produced a performance of Matthew Burtner’s  climate change opera, “Auksalaq,” created in collaboration with media artist Scott Deal, on April 14, 2018 at Rice University’s Moody Center for the Arts in Houston. “Auksalaq” was first presented in 2010 by the NYU New Music Ensemble featuring Joan LaBarbara in New York at the Ear to the Earth Festival, and was subsequently performed by New World Symphony, Bit20 Ensemble in Norway, the Telematic Collective in Indianapolis, the EcoSono Ensemble in Washington DC, the Lu Magnus Gallery in New York City, at OpenGrounds in Charlottesville, and the Museum of the North in Fairbanks, Alaska. This Houston premiere is presented by the Moody Center for the Arts as part of the CENHS “Cultures of Energy 7″ Festival. The performance culminates a year residency by Matthew Burtner and EcoSono at the Center for Energy and Environmental Research in the Human Sciences (CENHS) at Rice University. EcoSono Ensemble featured Lisa Edwards-Burrs, voice; Kelly Sulick, flute; I-Jen Fang, percussion; Kevin Davis, cello; Shawn Earle, clarinet; and Glen Whitehead, trumpet. The group was joined by Houston new music ensemble, Loop38.

Created by composer Matthew Burtner and media artist Scott Deal in collaboration with a team of scientists, visual artists and cultural leaders, “Auksalaq” integrates artistic expression, scientific information, and social/political commentary into an interactive, multi-dimensional collection of narratives that provide a stirring and sobering commentary on a world that is disappearing as a result of global warming. The narrative of Auksalaq incorporates  perspectives about the state of climate change as experienced in Alaska and the Arctic. These accounts, portrayed in the form of a scientific commentary and interviews with people of the region, are woven into a story about change in the far north. The music expresses interlocking environmental forces as eco-musical forms, expressing the profound changes in the ice-flows of Arctic waters. The media presents vivid imagery of Arctic land, sea and sky, as well as scientific data and animation. An interactive audience-participation software called Nomads enables engagement with the performance in real-time. Audience members use Nomads to become musical instruments of climate change, to create the libretto for specific songs, and to create a discussion in parallel with the multimedia performance.



The performance is presented and supported by the Moody Center for the Arts and the CENHS Cultures of Energy: “> “>


The performance in Houston will feature the spoken and sung voice of Lisa Edwards Burrs who was featured in the 2014 video release “>“Auksalaq Live at the Phillips Collection”. 

In addition to the Auksalaq performance, EcoSono Ensemble will also perform a concert of ecoacoustic music on Friday, April 13 at 7pm, also at the Moody Center. Join us on Friday and Saturday in Houston for both of these  innovative multimedia performances that address climate change and the role the arts can play in shaping conversations around the future of the planet.

More info on “Auksalaq”: “>