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Climate change debate fuels performance

Feb 19,2020
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The Army Music Corps plays “Men Sola Kommer I Hvert Fall Tilbake” at Tromso Cathedral on Jan. 29 with composer and conductor Christian Eggen, far left, and writer and reciter Kari Slaatsveen, far right, as part of the Northern Lights Festival program.

TROMSO, Norway - Climate change does not exist, and it’s the last thing on Earth we should care about.

What are some of the thoughts that cross your mind when you read that statement?

That’s the kind of effect that Kari Slaatsveen, Christian Eggen and the Army Music Corps tried to create in putting together “Men Sola Kommer I Hvert Fall Tilbake,” a science fiction concert performance set in 2120, that was performed here on Jan. 29.

“The story is set in 2120, when everything on Earth has been wiped away because of disasters stemming from climate change, except for this one area in Norway called More og Romsdal,” Eggen, the composer and conductor of the concert, told the Korea JoongAng Daily following the performance at Tromso Cathedral that evening. “And the only clue to why that may be is a hard disk that we stumble upon in the [story] that we wrote, which contains strange sounds recorded in More og Romsdal in 2020.”

Slaatsveen, a journalist and host of radio shows in Norway, leads the audience throughout the concert by reciting lines from the story that the writers wrote in between music performances by the Army Music Corps, whose origins date back to 1911 and is one of the oldest professional wind orchestras in the Nordic region.

The band plays a composition written by Eggen, which is a mix of orchestral performances and various other sounds including radio interviews with local politicians, a man mimicking the sounds of different types of animals, sounds of flowing water, a woman singing and even sound bites that represent the electromagnetic fields of the aurora borealis.

“We begin with strange sounds that sound like what the aurora borealis would sound like if its electromagnetic fields were transformed into sounds,” Eggen said. “To help us understand what these sounds mean, we get an Army band to play [them], sometimes mimicking how [poorly] these 100-year-old records sound.”

The way the sound records and the performances by the Army band weaved in and out of the concert seamlessly made it hard to tell when the recording ended and when the orchestral music started.

A key moment is a supposed 100-year-old recording of a politician speaking in a radio interview.

He is “saying that everything in More og Romsdal is perfectly O.K., that there is no climate change there,” Eggen said.

“It’s kind of a warning, a wake-up call,” Slaatsveen said. “Because there are many people speaking like this - that the nature of where I live is okay, when I am fishing, I get fish, my water is clean, etc., so there is no catastrophe.”

“It’s easy to say we should care about climate change,” Eggen said. “But we wanted to present something from the other side with humor.”


BY ESTHER CHUNG [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]