Tuesday 16 March | Georgina MacDonell Finlayson

For her #100DaysOfGreenNevis project, violinist Georgina MacDonell Finlayson is collecting 100 different pieces of music, art or text that relate to the climate crises or our natural world.

For my #100DaysOfGreenNevis challenge I decided to pull together 100 different pieces of music, art or text that in some way relate to the climate crises or our natural world, chosen by 100 different people. I’ve found it really fascinating to use the pieces picked as starting points to do my own little bits of research into the ideas behind the pieces or how they fit into the bigger context!

One of these pieces in particular is so familiar to many it is often thought to be a piece of folk music, but it was fascinating to think about its composition and place of origin through the lens of climate change.

Peter Maxwell Davies – Farewell to Stromness.

This piece was written as protest against a proposed uranium mine in Orkney. Uranium is used to make nuclear power and atomic bombs.

“I think that art, in this case a beautiful lament, can offer a powerful rebuke to man’s rapacious behaviour. The proposed uranium mine on Orkney would have had a hugely damaging effect on the ecology of the whole area, and uranium has the potential to create worldwide destruction. I think about this every time I play this.” (Anonymous)

The debate around nuclear power as a source of clean energy is complex and ongoing. However, Orkney now produces so much electricity from wind power (about 130%) that they don’t know where to put it all, and are looking for ways to convert it to hydrogen power, or even pipe it down to the mainland. This year they will also launch the first ever hydrogen-fuelled ferry!

Peter Maxwell Davies wrote this piece as lament for the destruction of a landscape he loved. But there is also so much hope in this music! The hope of a better future, where we respect each other and the land we stand on (in a world powered by wind, wave and sunshine where the air is once again good to breath!).

From 1 February 2021, Nevis is running #100DaysOfGreenNevis, where our musicians, staff and trustees will each take on a task for 100 days linked to Sustainability. We’d love you to join us, either by following the campaign online to get ideas of what you can do, or to show us you own actions for us to share. If you would like to know more, do get in touch at georgina@nevisensemble.org 

Nevis Ensemble’s #GreenNevis campaign in 2019 won the Environmental Sustainability award at the 2020 Scottish Awards for New Music, and was shortlisted for Best Campaign by Julie’s Bicycle.