Auksalaq, the Inupiat word for “melting snow/ice”, is an opera that provides an in-depth journey into the vast and remote, yet rapidly changing arctic regions of Alaska and Canada. Created by composer Matthew Burtner and media artist Scott Deal, the work integrates artistic expression, scientific information, and social/political commentary into an interactive, multi-dimensional collection of narratives that provide a stirring and sobering commentary on a world that is disappearing as a result of global climate change.
This video of the EcoSono Ensemble performance, recorded live at the Smithsonian Phillips Collection, documents a unique art/climate-change event of our time. The work premiered worldwide on October 29, 2012, just as Hurricane Sandy pummeled the US East Coast. The storm forced the cancelation of the Virginia, Washington DC and New York venues even as the performance went on as scheduled in Canada, Norway, Alaska, and Indiana. On February 11, 2013, the Smithsonian Phillips Collection in Washington DC, Lu Magnus in New York City, and the University of Virginia OpenGrounds in Charlottesville staged a reprise performance of Auksalaq.
The narrative of Auksalaq incorporates fragmented and conflicting perspectives about the state of climate change as experienced in Alaska and the Arctic. These accounts, portrayed in the form of a scientific commentary and interviews with people of the region, are woven into a story about change in the far north. The music expresses interlocking environmental forces as eco-musical forms, expressing the profound changes in the ice-flows of Arctic waters. The media presents vivid imagery of Arctic land, sea and sky, as well as scientific data and animation. An interactive audience-participation software called NOMADS enables engagement with the performance in real-time across all the stages.
The video features the musicianship of performers Lisa Edwards-Burr, voice; Kelly Sulick, flute; Adam Carter, cello; John Mayhood, piano; and I-Jen Fang, percussion
Watch the HD stream as a rental or digital download here, and order a DVD at ecosono.org/auksalaq-dvd/ or in stores.