ASU Symphony Orchestra, Brooklyn Rider concert collaboration focuses on climate, sustainability

Brooklyn Rider, 2022–23 resident artists in Arizona State University's School of Music, Dance and Theatre’s prestigious Visiting Quartet Residency Program, will join the ASU Symphony Orchestra for “Earth on Fire,” a rich tapestry of musical selections exploring major issues facing a global, interconnected society on a warming planet.

The critically acclaimed string quartet will act as leaders, soloists and collaborators throughout the concert performance at 7:30 p.m. April 5. The concert repertoire features works that range from a joyous celebration of global folk music to works that more directly address global warming and the recent devastating wildfires in California.

“A feature of Brooklyn Rider’s programming is a themed project each year as a way for them to invite their audience into conversations, to feature artistic voices of our time and to put a spotlight on issues of our time,” said Jonathan Swartz, professor of strings in the School of Music, Dance and Theatre and artistic director of the Visiting Quartet Residency Program.

Brooklyn Rider assembled their yearlong residency at ASU through works symbolizing earth, air, fire and water. The program with the Symphony Orchestra, curated by Brooklyn Rider and ASU Orchestras, brings awareness to the beauty of our world and the music of many cultures, while reminding us of current challenges in climate and sustainability.

The collaborative concert was designed to give the audience an opportunity to experience how music and art can help connect us to the science behind climate change and how it affects the human population.

Before the concert performance, there will be exhibits and art displays on topics of climate change and sustainability open to audiences at 6 p.m. Participating artists and scholars include ASU faculty and students from the School of Sustainability in the College of Global Futures, the School of Molecular Sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the School of Art and The Design School, both in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.

Projects include “Heat Vulnerability and Equity,” “Cool Kids: Neighborhood Justice,” “Protecting Coral Reefs Using Biochemistry,” "Virtual Water — Contemplating the water required to produce the goods we use” and “Imagined Landscapes — Landscapes before, during and after human influence.”

Jeffery Meyer, director of orchestras and associate professor, said that rather than commissioning the ASU community to create works specifically related to climate and sustainability, he wanted to provide ASU faculty and students the opportunity to display their current work.

“The amount of work being produced and led at ASU around the issues of sustainability and climate change is staggering,” Meyer said. “We curated this concert to highlight the depth of these efforts in our ASU and surrounding community.”

Sabine Feisst, professor of musicology in the School of Music, Dance and Theatre and senior sustainability scholar in the Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation, and Laurana Wheeler Roderer, doctor of musical arts student in violin performance, played an important role in connecting the orchestra with scholars and artists in a variety of ASU schools.

“This concert is much more than music and exhibits,” Roderer said. “This concert reinforces the fact that across the university, we understand that (climate change) is a global issue that impacts all of us and is connected to everyone's field of expertise and experience in a different but profound way.”

“Earth on Fire”

7:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 5. Lobby doors open at 6 p.m. for exhibits and art displays. 

ASU Gammage, Tempe campus. Tickets: $12 (ASU faculty and students can receive complimentary tickets through the box office).


  • Ruth Crawford Seeger: "Rissolty Rossolty"
  • Colin Jacobsen: "A Short While To Be Here…" (based on American folk songs as collected and transcribed by Ruth Crawford Seeger)
  • Michael Abels: "Global Warming"
  • Osvaldo Golijov: "Tenebrae" for string quartet (Brooklyn Rider)
  • Gabriela Lena Frank: "Contested Eden"
  • Siamak Aghaei/Colin Jacobsen: "Ascending Bird: Introduction and Dance for Orchestra" (arranged for full orchestra by Michael P. Atkinson)


Julie Anand
Associate professor, School of Art; Lincoln Center affiliated faculty, Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics; Senior global futures scholar, Global Futures scientists and scholars
Aurora Blackwell
Artist, art and ecology student
Katja Brundiers
Clinical associate professor, School of Sustainability, College of Global Futures; Director, Regional Center of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development
Paul Coseo
Program head and associate professor of landscape architecture, urban design and environmental design, The Design School; Senior global futures scientist, Global Futures scientists and scholars
Michelle Downey
Artist, art and ecology student
Braden Kay
Director of the Office of Sustainability and Resilience, city of Tempe
Liza M. Roger
Assistant professor, School of Molecular Sciences 

Lynne MacDonald