The Vanishing Snows of Kilimanjaro (Tribute and Lament for Winds)
(wind ensemble) 11"00"
A musical statement about natural beauty and tragic loss. (Level/Grade 6)
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Commissioned by the U.S. Air Force Academy Band of Colorado Springs, this work received several performances on tour in California during March 2007, including performances at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and the California Music Educators Association Conference.
Composer's Program Notes:
For thousands of years the local populations inhabiting the area of eastern Africa in the present day country of Tanzania have lived within view of the brilliant white splendor of the vast snow fields of Mount Kilimanjaro. But during only the past century, the face of Africa's highest peak has changed dramatically as it has lost over 90% of what was its permanent snow cover. Scientists now predict that by the year 2020 all of the glacial ice and snow of Kilimanjaro will have disappeared, endangering the livelihood of the people who depend on it for their source of water.
This composition pays tribute to the former natural splendor of Africa's highest mountain, to the countless stories, songs and dances which have been improvised over the centuries in praise of its magnificence or to communicate or explain the mysteries of its whiteness. It is music of transformation, from the extended majestic introduction, to the vibrant "snow dance" which blankets the summit with yet another layer, to the tribal drumming and dancing offered in honor and awe of the "Shining Mountain.” Finally the music takes on the tone of an elegy to mourn the permanent loss of such a beautiful sight.
Similar melting to that of Kilimanjaro is also occurring in many other mountainous locations throughout the planet as well as in the polar regions. It is widely agreed among the scientific community that global climate change which is caused at least in part by human burning of fossil fuels is responsible for such transformation and loss. We are just beginning to come to a consensus worldwide that the change in global climate is an urgent crisis facing our planet which has already impacted human populations as well as other life forms. But the losses to future generations have significant potential to be far more devastating. The important question now is what will be our response?