On March 19 and 20, the Spokane Symphony performs Michael Abels’ classic work Global Warming, as music director Eckart Preu leads the orchestra in its “Symphonic Dances” program. Inspired by the historic events of the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War era, Global Warming was commissioned and premiered by the Phoenix Youth Symphony in 1991.
“Global Warming is a piece that has been stuck in my mind for many years,” Preu shares. “When I heard it for the very first time, I was impressed by the inventiveness and drive of this work. This is a piece that speaks to all generations, not only because of its message but also because of the accessibility of its musical language. With its lively colorful web of styles and rhythms, it is a composition that will have you tapping your toes.”
Abels shares some insight into Global Warming. “Living in Los Angeles, I’ve been able to learn about music from around the world simply by opening the window; among my neighbors are immigrants from every corner of the world. I was intrigued by the similarities between folk music of divergent cultures, and decided to write a piece that celebrates these common threads as well as the sudden improvement in international relations at was occurring [at the time]…The opening section is a vision of the traditional idea of global warming – a vast desert, the relentless heat punctuated by the buzzing of cicadas, and an anguished, frenetic violin solo. This scene gives way to several episodes reminiscent of folk music of various cultures, most noticeably Irish and Middle Eastern. At the climax, a Middle Eastern melody is transformed through gradual changes in rhythm and ornamentation, back into the Irish refrain, and many counter-melodies join in to present a noisy yet harmonious world village. This joyous moment is broken by a sudden return to the stark vision of the opening, leaving it to the listener to decide which image may more accurately reflect the future.”