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Ranty Islam | Ideas

Orchestra of Change – Classical music with a green conscience

Musicians in yellow rubber boots carrying instrumentsMarkus Bruggaier is a man on a mission. As a horn player with Berlin's Staatskapelle, one of Europe's great orchestras, he makes a living from catering for the refined tastes of others. In concerts every other night of the week. Like all art, it comes at a price. But particularly in music it's more than just the cost of a ticket. The makers of musical instruments require hard woods, much of which still come from sources that are at best  questionable, he says.

"In Madagascar dozens of hectares of rosewood trees are logged every day. Much of it goes to China but also the US and other countries – e.g. to produce guitars. Some 10 million are made every year."

In addition, while the issue of climate change in general has started to inform a lot of the activities of artists in other areas, classical musicians in particular have remained a little too aloof from it, in Bruggaier's view. An unacceptable state of affairs, thought Bruggaier and a handful of colleagues of the Staatskapelle. In autumn of 2009 they decided to put the issue on the agenda of their orchestra and convinced most of their fellow musicians of the need to do something. The result is the Orchester des Wandels – the Orchestra of Change.

Two men behind a lecternLast Sunday they played their first concert in 2011 with all proceeds pledged to go to WWF forest conservation projects in India's Himalayan Northern states of  Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. All musicians put in their free time to play the concert – including world renowned conductor Zubin Mehta. Hailing from India himself, the maestro said, he was moved to tears, when the orchestra first approached him about playing the concert.

The orchestra welcome donations for their efforts and invite other musicians and orchestras to join.

Watch their kick-off concert last year. A truly elevating experience – literally, just watch to the end:

Read more about the Orchester des Wandels here.

Date

January 18, 2011

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