“Climate change” isn’t really about climate. It’s about people, migration, food, water, access, health, education, and fairness of opportunity,” declared Fio Omenetto, a director of the Tällberg Foundation. If we don’t fix our climate now, there will be too much to fix later.”
That spirit underlies “Tällberg’s Jazz for the Planet,” an initiative created under the leadership of Omenetto that brought together a group of world-class musicians to create and perform new music about the climate. The music was first performed during a live recording session on October 19th in Boston and began streaming globally on November 1st.
The musicians, led by Saxophonist Marco Pignataro, included Terri Lyne Carrington (drums), Joe Lovano (saxophone), John Patitucci (bass), Chico Pinheiro (guitar), Anastassiya Petrova (piano) and Nadia Washington (vocals). Collectively, the group has nearly fifty nominations and 7 Grammy Awards, and several of them have been recognized among the best performers in jazz today. During the performance, Omenetto said that, “These amazing artists have wholeheartedly embraced the urgency of addressing the mess we have made of our climate. They are using their talents to shape a message of hope, rather than the despair that consumes too many activists.”
Bringing such talent together requires inspiration as well as leadership. Pignataro, as artistic director for the performance, provided both. As he put it, “From culture and identity, to racial and social justice, jazz music has historically been a powerful medium to inspire, educate, empower and advocate for social change in our community. Using jazz to advocate for reforms to climate policies …is now a mandate for us as conscious artists, caring for our world.”
New music about the climate was written for this performance by Pignataro (“Moon Threads”), Lovano (“As it should be”) and Patitucci (“Terra—Mare—Cielo”). Other original music performed included Pignataro’s “On Irene’s Path,” which he wrote after the 2011 hurricane Irene devastated the U.S. East Coast.
The musicians said they were energized by the chance to work together on this project. “It was a joy and a blessing writing this music,” said Patitucci. I feel that our planet is such a precious gift that comes with a responsibility to do all we can to preserve it.” On the sheet music for “As it should be,” Lovano simply wrote: “Freedom, Justice, Hope, Love, Compassion.”
The idea of integrating music and performance in order not only to better understand critical policy issues, but also to motivate action has been part of the Tällberg Foundation’s approach for decades. “Artists—musicians, actors, painters, poets, dancers and others—speak to us emotionally in ways that deepen understanding,” according to Tällberg’s chairman, Alan Stoga. “These kinds of performances go way beyond entertainment: they are calls to action in the most elemental and emotional ways. We need both heads and hearts to have any chance of coping with accelerating climate change.”
The performance was hosted and produced by Boston’s GBH, which operates in television, radio, and online streaming and creates a vast array of cultural and news content as a member station of National Public Radio and affiliate of Public Radio International. Speaking of the partnership with the Tällberg Foundation that drove the initiative, Anthony Rudel, GBH Music’s General Manager said, “Millions of words have been spoken about the climate crisis, and yet so little has advanced. Turning to great music, and specifically great jazz seems incredibly apt and timely. Perhaps this amazing event will advance the conversation, for as Hans Christian Andersen wrote, ‘Where words fail, music speaks.'”
The production is available to stream on the Tällberg Foundation’s website as well as other platforms in Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa as of November 1st. To watch the concert, go to: jazzfortheplanet.org
Written by the Tällberg Foundation, a longtime partner of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF). Learn more about Tällberg’s work supported by SNF, including a global leadership prize.