By Julia D. Berg

Waters Rising!

By Julia D. Berg
Cross-curricular performances by Frost School of Music students and faculty increase community awareness about the causes and consequences of sea level rise.

Like many baby-boomers whose teenage imprint years were in the 1970s, the Frost School of Music’s Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies  Steven Moore grew up loving the Beatles, witnessed Neil Armstrong’s historic walk on the moon on a black and white television set, and developed a heightened awareness and caring for the Earth in his hometown of Lexington, Kentucky.

Today, as conductor of one of the school’s wind bands, the Frost Symphonic Winds, he’s ramping up his passion for all-things-earth-related in support of UM’s Climate Change Special Report.

He’s doing it by raising awareness through the means he knows best: making music.

Wednesday night, Moore will conduct the Frost Symphonic Winds in a concert titled Waters Rising! at the Maurice Gusman Concert Hall on the University of Miami’s Coral Gables Campus. (Free admission for all. Live streaming also available.)

“It will feature exciting art music with a visceral connection to water,” says Moore, who has inspired his students and the school’s marketing division to do a social media blitz. “The experience combines incredible music, visual art, and renowned experts—all of which will increase our awareness regarding the causes and consequences of sea level rise.”

Moore and his music therapist wife Kimberly Sena Moore, and their two children have already done a great deal to reduce their carbon monoxide footprint at home. “Sea level rise is never far from my mind,” says Moore. “Like many people—like you, too, right?—I have been an environmentalist since college days; vegetarian since 1993. I got my first electric bike in 2007, and an all-electric car in 2012. Our latest is a 2017 Chevy Volt. And this fall we installed solar panels on our house through a solar co-op. The panels provide all the electricity necessary to meet the annual needs of our house. Obviously, anyone who owns a home in Miami area is cognizant of the sea level rise issues we face.”

But Moore wanted to do more; as a resident of Coral Gables, he wanted to put a spotlight on the issues of climate change and rising waters in his own back yard and in the concert hall.

It was time to get Frost School of Music students in gear…and they did, they’ve ramped up in a big way.

"I honestly hope that this concert bring awareness to the fact that sea levels are rising, that global warming or climate change is not a hoax, that there are very real possibilities of not only thousands upon thousands of people dying, because of flooding and sudden changes - it's going to affect everything and ultimately Florida will go under if things continue the way they do," said Jackie Hernandez, a Frost School master's student in french horn instrumental performance. 

Caterina Papadopulos, an undergraduate studying music education, agrees. "I hope that because of this concert, people don't take the sea level rise issue as a joke anymore. It really is a very real possibility and concern for native Floridians, as well as everybody that calls the Miami campus our home."

Tonight’s musical extravaganza will begin with pre-concert music in the Gusman Concert Hall lobby by the Stamps Woodwind Quintet performing Handel’s Water Music, which was debuted in 1717 by musicians performing for King George on a barge in the River Thames.

Teddy Lhoutellier, sustainability manager from  the UM Office of Sustainability, will introduce the Frost Symphonic Winds in a program that begins with Frank Ticheli’s Dancing on Water, and Eric Whitacre’s Cloudburst (which includes audience participation with the Bells of St. Andrews Handbell Choir). Vince Lago, Coral Gables Commissioner, will then provide thematic remarks preceding Michael Daugherty’s Niagara Falls.

Xavier Cortada, visual artist and director of the UM Alumni Association, who often ties his art to social issues, will provide commentary to introduce Steven Bryant’s Ecstatic Waters, which will be performed in tandem with large screen projections of Cortada’s Antarctic Ice Paintings. The musical work will incorporate electronics and feature Aaron Geldert, a sophomore trombonist and music engineering technology major. Ecstatic Waters uses Ableton Live [music production hardware and software] in a highly interesting manner. It’s not often that you have successful integration of a digital audio workstation (DAW) with classical wind music,” exudes Moore.

Dr. Philip Stoddard, a FIU biologist and Mayor of South Miami, will provide closing commentary before a rousing performance of John Phillip Sousa’s classic march, Hands Across the Sea.

“We would love to see a large turnout of UM students and community patrons to experience live music,” adds Moore. “We hope our Frost School of Music students come away with a sense of what one person can do to impact the world. When each of us does our part to raise awareness about protecting the environment, and adopting energy-saving measures in our home and work lives, it definitely can make a difference.”