Nina C. Young

Nina C. Young

Frederic A. Juilliard/Walter Damrosch Rome Prize
September 1, 2015–July 31, 2016
Profession
Department of Music, Columbia University
Project title
Making Tellus: Sketches of a Cosmogram for the Anthropocene
Project description

During the fellowship period supported by the American Academy in Rome, I will continue work on a Making Tellus: Sketches of a Cosmogram for the Anthropocene, an evening-length, experimental cantata for bass voice, female vocal trio, mixed chamber ensemble, and electronics—a collaboration with the bass vocalist Andrew R. Munn and the producer Sugar Vendil of the Nouveau Classical Project.

Imagine collecting an ice-core sample from a glacier. This cross-section of frozen water contains thousands of years of information—data used to create a climactic record of Earth. Scientists become chroniclers as they discover and tell the story of our planet. In Making Tellus I harvest a metaphorical core-sample of human time. This cross-section becomes a cosmogram, or a mandala, that narrates the mythological, scientific, literary, and sociopolitical conversations that have led to an awareness of our new geologic epoch—the Anthropocene. This cantata visits a wide swathe of texts from the Bible to research papers, from Antonio Stoppani’s 1873 Corso di Geologia to #Anthropocene tweets. This temporal juxtaposition creates a dialogue between the past and current ideas regarding the notion that humankind is now directly sculpting the geology of Earth. Subsequently I will write a chamber concerto for violist Jocelin Pan that will focus on creating sonic equivalents to the “trompe l’oeil” illusion inspired by Andrea Pozzo’s paintings of the “dome” and ceiling of the Chiesa di Sant’Ignazio.