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This article is the latest in our series #Art4Climate, a joint initiative by the UNFCCC secretariat and Julie’s Bicycle on the work of artists who make the issue of climate change more accessible and understandable by featuring it in their work. It was inspired by a session at the Salzburg Global Seminar in early 2017.

Inspired by the North Sea Flood of 1953—which left the Netherlands devastated and also took many lives in the UK and Belgium – the music theatre work Shorelines explores the beauty and catastrophic power of the sea at a time of increased risk from climate change.

The world premiere of the Dutch-Belgian production will take place this May, ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn (COP23, 6 – 17 November ). COP23 will be hosted by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and will be presided over by the government of Fiji, a low-lying developing nation highly vulnerable to sea level rise and flooding.

The Fijian COP23 Presidency is making adaptation to the inevitable impacts of climate change notably for developing countries a key focus of the conference. Like the Netherlands, the UK and Belgium, Fiji is vulnerable to flooding from the sea. But as a low-lying developing nation, Fiji is in less of a position to defend itself from sea level rise, storm surges and saltwater intrusion – a situation which holds true for all vulnerable developing countries. However, there is much that all coastal regions can learn from each other, and the loss of lives from storm surges and finding ways to adapt is a common experience and need.

Haunting Music Captures Powerful Emotions

Acting as both a memorial to those who lost their lives and a meditation on water, Shorelines centres on a rare eyewitness testimony of a survivor from Canvey Island, Essex in the UK who lost everything to the sea.

Following the moments after the flood, the performers drift through a dramatic musical landscape of flowing and shifting textures; as the members of the quartet perform against haunting recordings of themselves and collages of slowed strings and choral voices, the audience hear the sounds that were never heard, the calls that were unanswered and see shadows floating through the darkness. Here is a sample of the music:

The composer of the music Oliver Coates said: "With Shorelines, I am attempting to recreate, in sound, a fantasy of multiple lighthouses along the shore - an imagined time-lapse video. The work is a memorial to the dark night in 1953 when an individual slowly loses everything to water as the flood climbs through each hour of the night.”

The music theater production is being performed by the much-lauded all-female Ragazze Quartet from the Netherlands, and directed by Glasgow-based Cryptic Associate artist Josh Armstrong, with costume and set design by the legendary, LA-based fashion designer and artist Christophe Coppens.

Following its World Premiere at Operadagen Rotterdam 19 and 20 May, the piece will be performed at Cryptic's Sonica Festival in Glasgow on 1 and 2 November. The full Sonica programme will be announced in May.

See a video on the making of the music theatre production here:

See the relevant press release here

#Art4Climate is a joint initiative by the UNFCCC and Julie’s Bicycle to spot and propose super recent and new works in this broad field, but we also want to hear from you! Please send any proposals for showcasing to newsroom@unfccc.int or Chiara@juliesbicycle.com.

Please amplify our web posts with Twitter hashtag #Art4Climate and #COP23!

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