Todd's epic, Emmy-winning choral text for composer Jake Runestad's 35-minute Earth Symphony is a dramatic monologue narrated by Mother Earth herself.
In five movements, the work imagines Mother Earth’s original hope for humanity, her discovery of its power, her ruination at its hands, her lament at its extinction, and her eventual recovery.
[Excerpt] Forever alone—
four billion years of empty
space and dormant stone.
Then you were born:
and soon upon your face
there dawned a trace of mind!
You scorned the odds
to be reborn as gods of reason,
authors of wonder,
inventors of alchemy,
You alone unwound
the helix of my chi. You
mirrored me to me.
You were my light.
Never shall I dare to dream
another dream so bright. ...
The video compilation above features excerpts from all five movements: Evolution, Ambition, Destruction, Lament, and Recovery. The full symphony has a 35-minute run time.
By extending the familiar earth-mother trope, Earth Symphony tells a new story that invites listeners to see humankind's ecological responsibility, potential, and redemption through a wide-angled, time-telescoped lens. The goal of the piece is neither to preach nor to scold, but instead to empathically open an aperture on a complex and urgent issue.
Earth Symphony was commissioned by True Concord Voices and Orchestra of Tucson, Arizona, Eric Holtan, Founding Music Director, through the Dorothy Dyer Vanek Fund for Excellence. It was set for full orchestra and choir by composer Jake Runestad.
I attended the premiere of Earth Symphony, and it was
absolutely stunning! Choirs and orchestras around the world need to
perform this timely work! Can't stop thinking about the colorful score
and the powerful message.
— Edith Copley
National President-Elect, American Choral Directors Association (ACDA)
Earth Symphony's three premiere performances in Tucson were met with standing ovations Feb 25-26, 2022. A concert recording by Arizona Public Broadcasting won a regional EMMY for Best Musical Composition. The weekend's performances were carbon neutral thanks to an artist-inspired donation to Tucson's Manzo Elementary School, flagship of the University of Arizona's Community and School Garden Program.
Earth Symphony's European premiere took place in October 2023 by the Bilbao Symphonic Orchestra (pictured left).
Performances are programmed by The National Korean Symphony, Munich Radio Orchestra, and the national conference of the ACDA. It will be featured on a forthcoming album from True Concord due to be released in April 2024.
The German premiere of EARTH SYMPHONY was a huge success.
This piece closed a program. Easily 30 seconds of pin-drop silence,
then a never-ending applause developed into a long standing ovation
and multiple curtain calls. One definitely for the history books.
— Joseph Olefirowicz
conductor, Munich Radio Orchestra and Choir
Earth Symphony is published by JR Music, and is available to ensembles. Preview the score, view the premiere, and read the full text here.
Jake and I wanted to address the climate crisis, but we didn't want to preach. By reversing perspectives and condensing time, I was able to approach the subject matter afresh. Jake's music uses a range of emotions—wonder, rage, joy, sorrow, introspection—to appeal to audiences' natural propensities for empathy and compassion. I'm grateful that the maturity of our collaborative relationship allows us to play with such poetic license and creative depth, and I'm honored that True Concord had the leadership vision to commission us.