CSUN’s The Soraya Partners with The New York Times for Climate Event


Technology has transformed our lives, but despite its many promises, it has yet to save us from the perils of global warming. Changes in society have often come from art, but will they be able to mobilize change this time around? Pioneers in technology, business and the arts will gather in October in San Francisco to examine our collective response to the climate challenge.

The New York Times will host “A New Climate,” a live, in-person event on Wednesday, October 12 at the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco. Soraya Executive and Artistic Director Thor Steingraber and composer and environmentalist Gabriella Smith join tech leaders, engineers, storytellers, musicians and food innovators to take part in the day-long event that will feature extended excerpts from each of the three musical pieces from The Soraya’s Treelogy ahead of its official world premiere in February 2023. Participants in “A New Climate” include Brad Smith, President and Vice President of Microsoft; Linda Zhang, chief engineer at Ford Motors; and Ethan Brown, founder and CEO of Beyond Meat, among others.

Commissioned by The Soraya at CSUN, Treelogy is a musical portrait of the redwoods, redwoods and Joshua trees of California. The three pieces are created by Gabriella Smith, Grammy Award-winning composer Steven Mackey, and Grammy Award-winning jazz composer Billy Childs, based in Los Angeles. “A New Climate” will preview extended Treelogy excerpts of every piece of music performed by Delirium Musicum. This will be the very first time the plays will be performed, ahead of the Feb. 23, 2023 premiere and subsequent tour to other California State University campuses.

“They are among the oldest living things in the world. The climate crisis is killing them.” That was the title of John Branch’s 2020 New York Times article about the coast redwoods, giant sequoias, and Joshua trees that perished in California’s deadly wildfires that year. Steingraber was inspired by Branch’s piece to commission Treelogy, a three-part musical reflection in response to the fires. What does this musical response to journalism say about the role of artists in a challenge as vast as the climate crisis?

“With the scale and frequency of climate crises, everyone has a role to play in creating solutions, and we cannot rely on policymakers and journalists alone to inspire change,” Steingraber said.

“Musicians are able to play a unique role in appealing to our hearts with a sense of beauty and dignity. California’s beloved trees deserve it, and in celebrating them, we aim to inspire urgency and perseverance, and to overcome the growing sense of helplessness.These trees are the backdrop to our lives, and the postcards of California, iconic to the world of our great state and its natural wonders.The Soraya brought together artists who share this vision, the violinist Étienne Gara and the three composers. all internationally busy artists, each also has deep Californian roots. Like me, they were inspired by the report of the New York Times journalist John Branch in his coverage of the California wildfires in 2020. Our goal is for each of the three tree species to receive a very distinct musical treatment from the three composers.”

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist John Branch documented the destruction of three of California’s most beloved tree species: the giant sequoia, the Joshua tree, and the coast redwood. Many trees had perished in the first of a series of deadly wildfires across the state and it was clear the trees were now in the fight of their lives. Since Branch’s reporting, extreme wildfires in California have continued to grow, as have calls to protect beloved symbols of California, the ancient trees that stand in their way.

Thor Steingraber’s artistic career spans more than 20 years, directing in major venues ranging from Lincoln Center to theaters in Europe and Asia. Los Angeles has long been her artistic home where her work for the Los Angeles Opera could be seen at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion from 1994 to 2008. Steingraber has also taught and conducted at Yale School of Music, Jacobs School of Music from Indiana University and the Curtis Institute. . Since his appointment as Executive and Artistic Director of Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts (The Soraya) in 2014, Steingraber has brought fame to the 1,700-seat venue. Located in the heart of the San Fernando Valley, The Soraya is known for hosting many Los Angeles artists and arts organizations, and Steingraber’s experience as a producer has brought The Soraya some of the most innovative and innovative programming. diverse in the world. Region. Steingraber is a graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School and was its first Arts and Culture Fellow. He went on to serve as vice president of two of the nation’s largest performing arts centers – the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia and the Music Center in downtown Los Angeles, where he was responsible for opening Grand Park and of establishing the vision that made the park vital to LA. as home to its many celebrations and holidays.

Composer and environmentalist Gabriella Smith is a composer and environmentalist. His music comes from a love of play and connecting listeners with the natural world. Recent highlights include the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s performances of “Tumblebird Contrails”, conducted by John Adams and “Breathing Forests” conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen. She recently recorded her first full album, “Lost Coast”, at Greenhouse Studios in Iceland.

Located on the vibrant and diverse campus of California State University in the heart of Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley, Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts (The Soraya) continues its vigorous commitment to innovate, excel, and amplify the access by offering a wide variety of performances that reflect the many distinctive communities of Los Angeles and feature new and original work from the Los Angeles area as well as artists from around the world.

Soraya’s 2022-23 season offers a joy-filled reunion with a dynamic schedule of nearly 50 classical and popular music, dance, theatre, family and international events that will further establish her as one of the top companies Southern California artists who uplift and inspire their audiences.


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