He created‘Music for a Warming World’.
See our climate change show's 2-minute promo video for ‘Music for a Warming World’:
FIRST QUESTION from DAN BLOOM in Taiwan: Simon, I love what you and your team there are doing with ‘Music for a Warming World’. When did the show begin? How will the shows be booked? What might it cost to book such a show for a nonprofit cliamte group or school that wants to hire your team? In Australian dollars.
SIMON KERR: ‘Music for a Warming World’was developed in the last half of 2015, and we did a couple of test runs with various academic and artistic people to help refine the ideas and show format. Then we kicked it off at the beginning of 2015 and to date (as of June 2016) have done about 15 shows.
QUESTION: Will you possibly perform at literary festivals in Australia, where there are so many lit festivals in Sydney, Brisbane, Melborune, Tamania and Perth?SK: We would be delighted to perform ‘Music for a Warming World’at literary festivals, and think the show would be a novel creative addition to such events. We are still in the early stages of publicising the show -- and literary festivals are definitely an option. Currently our main focus is on house concerts, music festivals, community groups and academic conferences, but we are very open to new opportunities that we haven’t thought of. We see ‘Music for a Warming World’ as a resource for all sorts of communities to help generate discussion and
QUESTION: In the future could your team possibly do overseas shows of ‘Music for a Warming World’ in New Zealand, Japan, Canada, USA or UK, or Norway or UK literary drama fesitvals like the HAY FESTIVAL in future years?
SK: At this stage we are focusing on establishing the show in Australia first, for lots of reasons. Partly we are trying to limit our carbon footprint, but we also recognise the show has something to offer for a more international audience. We would be interested in taking it internationally provided we go for a decent amount of time with a large number of performances. That way we can lower our carbon footprint by doing fewer but longer tours rather than many short stints.
QUESTION - You were born in New Zealand. Did you grow up there, and when did you come to Australia and at what age did you pick up the guitar and start singing and writing songs? What was the motivation or inspiration to put your heart and sould into communicating through songs and words?
SK: I am a proud Kiwi, growing up in the deep south of the South Island, a land of magnificent landscapes, rivers, mountains, forests. I came to Australia in 2007 for work, a reluctant migrant. However, I do like Australia, it is a very dynamic place and deeply beautiful in its own unique way. I played guitar, like many young people, for a few years, in an enthusiastic but rudimentary way, and then took up drumming. That was my initial musical experience, but in my late 30s I decided to trying song-writing. Unexpectedly, I discovered that I could write songs rather easily. That is not to imply they were all great songs, but I discovered a sort of communication avenue that music provided. I could express my thoughts in succinct ways that seemed to communicate at a level that words alone could not always achieve.
NOTE: Some other musical things happening are: There is this wonderful piece https://vimeo.com/
NOTE: The Simon Kerr Perspective has taken on the artistic challenge to tell the story of the climate challengeIt uses stunning images, superb original music and captivating narrativeThis concert moves minds and hearts, is entertaining, sad, funny, informative and empoweringIt speaks honestly about the science, provides hope for the future, inspiring new and positive ways to think and feel about the climate challenge
QUESTION: HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THIS FANTASTIC SHOW AND CONCEPT, AND HOW LONG DID IT TAKE TO PUT IT ALL TOGETHER?
SK: I had been thinking about this show for some years, since I wrote my first song about climate change in 2004. I had tried some years ago, but probably didn’t have the right people to work with me. Christine (my partner and show co-producer) and I started this mid-2015 and I was working full-time on it for probably about 4 months. It took a lot of conceptual thinking to get the narrative right, then try to work out what music and visuals were needed to support each section. I have spent far more time than is healthy (!) on sourcing interesting and relevant video and still images, and ensuring that it technically all flows properly (very time consuming). That is not counting the time in musical development, rehearsals, website development and promotion. But it has all been very exciting and engaging and we both feel privileged to have the opportunity to do this.
Simon Kerr: Thank you, Dan. Glad you found us!
WHY THIS SHOW? WHY ‘Music for a Warming World’.
According to the latest IPCC report (2014): "Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia..." This means the planet is getting hotter and we are the main cause!
It is also widely agreed that the average annual global temperature increase (against pre-industrial levels) must not exceed 2 degrees Celsius. Beyond this it is highly likely that we will not be able to prevent further temperature increase. As of November 2015, the world is about to reach, for the first time, 1 degree C above the agreed base line.
Many scientists already think we will hit 4 - 6 degrees increase. If that happens, our planet risks becoming unliveable for the types of societies we have created.
These things will happen if the global temperature continues to increase, though exactly where and when these things will occur is uncertain and the subject of much scientific study.
5. WHY MUSIC?
Music is an important means of communicating about things that matter to us all.
Inspire ways of thinking and feeling optimistically about our warming world;
Give emotional expression to the science and challenges of a changing climate;
‘Music for a Warming World’: a Multimedia Concert
Welcome to our show. What you are about to see is a little different from a normal gig; it is a musical and visual journey.
PART 1: STORM
1) Before the Storm
A dark, rhythmic and roots based stomper exploring the emotions of the singer as he sees dark clouds on the horizon (metaphorically and literally)
By releasing large amounts of greenhouse gases, we are artificially changing the atmosphere. This mostly instrumental song brings us back to the basis of atmospheric chemistry through the use of videos clips and aural experience. Performed in a style Simon refers to as ‘world music’ with an unusually tuned 12 String guitar at its core.
3) A Song for a Warming Planet
An instrumental, originally composed by cellist Daniel Crawford, where each note corresponds to the average global temperature from 1880 to 2012. Hear the original version here
4) Greenhouse Gases for the Masses
A partly spoken-word tune in a hiphop/folk style, this tune lays out the basic facts of planetary warming in a simple way; the rapid increase of carbon in the atmosphere and the temperature increases that parallel the CO2 levels.
SEGUE: Last time there was this much carbon in the atmosphere, modern humans did not exist. The world’s oceans were 30 metres higher than they are today and global average surface temperature was 6 degrees warmer than now. Our world is changing and there is much that will be lost.
5) There is a Bear
In thinking what is being lost in our world, this song and came up with this strange tail about a bear and a time machine.
6) For Those Who Will Come
“The world we have received also belongs to those who will follow us” (Pope Francis, 159, Encyclical on Care for our Common home’)
This issue becomes personal when we think of our children and grandchildren who will inherit the world from us. This song was released on Simon’s 2011 Album ‘Sweet Lover’ and was written as a love song for future generations.
7) One cheer for Coal (a cappella)
Coal and oil have done wonderful things for us. They powered the industrial revolution, built our wealth, supported our scientific development, made us much wealthier, given us better health, longer lives and so on, so lets acknowledge our debt to fossil fuel. I am no longer the impoverished Irish potato farmer that my forebears were, in many ways thanks to what fossil fuels have done.
“Let’s have one last cheer for coal
It’s done so much for humanity
Now it’s clear it’s simply mad
To burn more coal for energy
For reason that are clear and now
It’s time to say farewell
So cheerio, our old friend coal
Cheerio coal, cheerio”
8) Leave the Dead Where They Fall
Christine and I saw the giant redwoods in Yosemite National Park (California) for the first time recently. I found it a powerful, almost spiritual experience, being in the presence of the largest living entities on Earth. This got me thinking about how coal comes from the bodies of dead plants from millions of years ago.
In some ways we’re digging up the spirits of the dead
This song has been recorded and will be available in early 2016
9) A little Story about Dis-investing
One powerful and achievable thing to do it is take our money out of any institution that still invests in fossil fuels, and put it into a responsible institution. Here is a little story about that.
10) This Changes Everything (this changes our world)
“Climate change is not an issue, it is a civilizational wake up call, and this changes everything” (Naomi Klein)
This song was inspired by Naomi Klein’s powerful book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. Cheap fossil fuels have powered our economies and lifestyle, and made some groups very wealthy. Those currently benefiting most will not easily give up their hold on power. We need significant change to the global governance of our atmospheric commons. And this will change everything!
This song has been recorded and will be available in early 2016
11) Moving a Big Sky
A song in praise of wind energy, and indirectly all clean energy, from Simon’s 2014 album, Never Gonna Die
SEGUE: There are some great things happening, but the truth is I find the future really quite challenging. Even if we got serious today, significant climate impacts are now locked in and inescapable.
12) Imagine the World
The future is not fixed. There are huge changes underway in technology, energy economy and civil society and there are grounds for hope. But only if we decide what sort of future we want.
“And I imagine our world and what we could be
A chance to write our future history
Let’s imagine our world, one where it’s clear
That living can be better in our future, than it is here”
13) Simple Things
Living simply is not only good for the planet, but is remarkably good for the soul. This popular reggae sing-along tune is from Simon’s 2011 album, ‘Sweet Lover’.
“I love these simple things
All of these simple things
These simple things now”
14) Permanence (in a temporary sort of way)
To flourish in the face of climate change is to live well in the midst of uncertainty. This tune is off Simon’s first album (2007) Voyager, and suggests that we can find emotional anchors even in the midst of uncertainty and change. The link is to a new arrangement of this tune by the Simon Kerr Perspective.
(All songs in ‘Music for a Warming World’, except for ''Song for a Warming Planet,'' have been written by Simon Kerr)