‘Nature is going Quiet’ with economist Matthew Agarwala and Ewan Campbell, conductor of the Wilderness Orchestra

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Make Some Noise: Nature is Going Quiet

The world is changing, and Nature is going quiet. On the verge of what may become the 6th mass extinction, the University of Cambridge’s Matthew Agarwala and composer Ewan Campbell (conductor of the Wilderness Orchestra) have redacted Felix Mendelssohn’s ‘Hebrides Overture’ to depict the enormity of biodiversity loss. Inspired by a voyage to Fingal’s Cave in 1829 – just before the introduction of mechanised industrial fishing – Mendelssohn’s music starts as full and lively as the ocean in 1830. But like Nature, it is increasingly depleted as the decades pass. Just as humanity has pulled whales from the sea, the team has pulled notes from the score. Using scientific estimates of the North Atlantic Humpback Whale population, each missing note corresponds to a missing whale. In the face of devastating destruction Nature is resilient and always beautiful, and so even when two-thirds of the music is absent there remains a modest and delicate beauty, though a pale imitation of its once dramatic glory. In this fireside chat, Matthew and Ewan describe the project, the importance of combining the arts and sciences, and what to listen for in the world premier of The Hebrides Redacted (Sunday, August 7th by the Wilderness Orchestra).

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