The Bangor Symphony Orchestra planned to premiere conductor Lucas Richman’s new symphonic work, “The Warming Sea,” at its March 2020 concert, commissioned by the Maine Science Festival and inspired by climate change. But those plans were dashed by the coronavirus pandemic, which at that time was still in its first few weeks.
While there’s no clear plan as to when the piece will eventually have its first-ever live performance, the orchestra has made part of “The Warming Sea” available, with a new video featuring 86 musicians performing the final movement of the piece, “Hope Begins With Truth.” The video premiered on YouTube last week.
The Bangor Symphony Orchestra, led by Richman and accompanied by Bangor-based choir Divisi and members of the Pittsburgh Youth Chorus, can be seen in a Zoom-style gallery of faces, performing the stirring conclusion of the piece, which Richman says was informed by months of research on how climate change is affecting the Gulf of Maine — and by talking with middle school students.
“In addition to the incredible amount of information gleaned from numerous scientists and legislators up and down the Eastern seaboard of Maine, I felt an obligation to convey in my music the hopes and fears about climate change expressed by the hundreds of middle school children with whom I met during the course of my creative preparation,” Richman said.
Brian Hinrichs, the Bangor Symphony Orchestra’s executive director, said that he expected to make an announcement about changes to the orchestra’s upcoming season, which was supposed to begin in-person in January 2021. It will involve at least some performances that will be held digitally, though the full scope of changes won’t be finalized until later this month.
Nevertheless, Hinrichs said that Richman and the orchestra wanted to get at least part of “The Warming Sea” out to the public.
“We knew that we wanted to create something remotely to at least get part of Lucas’s brilliant piece out into the world,” Hinrichs said. “Over the course of two months, we made sure every part was filled out, which in some cases involved putting invitations out beyond Bangor. We are so proud of the end result.”
The Maine Science Festival, an annual weeklong celebration of science and technology held in Bangor, originally commissioned the piece for this year’s festival, which was set for March 2020 and which was canceled. The festival announced this week that it would also be canceling its March 2021 festival.
“It is clear that we cannot expect a resolution of the COVID-19 pandemic in the time that we need to plan for and execute the [festival],” director Kate Dickerson said. “There are many moving parts, and having more than 10,000 people together over those five days would be irresponsible.”