Music, Climate and the Living World

What is the role of music in a time of climate and ecological collapse?

Music and sound has always had the potential to connect us with the more-than-human world. Music gives us hope, helps us grieve, reminds us to laugh, and can transform our inspiration into action. This course is for musicians, music industry professionals, sound-based artists and composers who want to explore the role of music, sound, lyrics and spoken-word within and against a backdrop of climatic, ecological and cultural changes.



What to expect

In this 5 Day Residential – part workshop, part lecture, part co-created experimental sound studio – you’ll be guided through a mixture of talks, workshops and practical experiments that will help you explore the role of your music and sound practice in a time of climate collapse.

Progress your ideas, reflect, gain new knowledge, develop existing projects and pursue new ideas, play and experiment – alone, in nature and with others.

Collaboratively – through talks, practical activities, feedback sessions and discussion – we’ll explore the following questions:

  • How does the natural world shape, nourish and inform our music-making practice?
  • How can music and sound-art help us to enhance and articulate our relationship with the natural world?
  • How can it help us make sense of the changing environment and the ecological destruction around us?
  • What role has music played historically at pivotal moments of protest and transformation?
  • How might music and sound-based art catalyse the transition to a more ecological society?

It’s our hope that you’ll emerge with a clearer idea of what you want to make, why, how, and how your music and sound can reach your audiences.



Who will I learn from? 

Rufus Mufasa

Rufus is a pioneering participatory artist, literary activist, poet, rapper, singer songwriter, theatre maker, and last but not least, Mother. She lives in Cardiff and advocates hip hop education and poetry development accessible to all. Rufus was the first Future Generations Act Poet in Residence and is a Hay Writer at Work. She supports several intergenerational projects, mentors men at Parc Prison and works internationally. Rufus’ work explores motherhood, the spirituality of ancestry, class, climate chaos, and transgenerational/trapped trauma.

Ed O’Brien

Ed O’Brien’s authorised copy reads: Composer, musician and Radiohead, Ed O’Brien is deeply committed to exploring questions around how to align creative practice with an emotional, political and philosophical response to the climate change emergency.

Jude Rogers

Jude is author of the acclaimed book ‘The Sound of Being Human: How music Shapes our Lives’. She is also a freelance journalist, broadcaster and documentary-maker, interested in how music can help us engage with the nature of the world and the nature of ourselves. She lives in Wales.

Richard Reed Parry

Best known for being the musical polymath at the heart of Arcade Fire, Richard’s multi-award winning wide ranging work as composer, performer and producer occupies the wilder edge of music. He works across genres, from folk, to jazz, to classical and has collaborated and performed with artists from a dazzling musical / artistic spectrum, including David Bowie, David Byrne, the New York Philharmonic, the Kronos Quartet, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Mick Jagger, The National, Britten Sinfonia, London Philharmonic and Bang on a Can.
Richard’s phonic folk ensemble, Quiet River of Dust is a long-standing music and film project celebrating (and grieving) our relationship with the natural world.

Jozeff Harris

Joseff Harris is a Composer, Sound Designer & Audio Producer working across theatre, film and audio. He is interested in how sound can tap into our subconscious, seeking to create work focused on rhythms and cycles. He is part of the Rabbit Holes Cohort, working with the BBC to reimagine how podcasts can be experienced. Recent credits include: SEE MONSTER – an immersive sound installation, on a retired rig from the North Sea, featuring people’s experiences of weather and climate change. He is currently works with scientists sonically capturing a tree sapling’s experience of drought.

James McVinnie

James is an organist and keyboard player, steeped in the traditions of Anglican church music (having held organ playing positions at St Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey). He now directs the James McVinnie Ensemble, a collective of virtuoso keyboardists dedicated to exploring work often preoccupied with political themes by contemporary and emerging composers. Recent works include: Breathing Forests -an organ concerto about the complex relationship between humans, forests, climate change, and fire. And SOUNDWALK, a 3 year, GPS-enabled work of public art in London’s Regent’s Park that uses music to illuminate the natural environment.

Loss><Gain: David Sheppard & John Best

Less travel, more music: Spatial audio designers Loss><Gain address the need for us all to fly less by imagining new ways for musicians to stay put while reaching more people around the world. Veteran Sound Designer David Sheppard and long-term Sigur Rós manager John Best, will share how they capture the unmixed ‘stage box’ of a live performance, and create fully immersive remote versions of shows in distant venues in real time. Building upon Best’s previous experience creating live “sound baths” around the world with Sigur Rós, and Sheppard’s long history of work on immersive gallery sound installations.



Key Information

Date – 27th September to 1st October 2023

Location – Penpont, Brecon, Powys LD3 8EU, Wales. You’ll be camping, working and playing at the beautiful, rootsy and re-wilded Penpont country estate in the heart of the Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons) National Park, with access to woodlands, rivers, fields and the hills – as well as indoor spaces to play, compose, discuss, wander and experiment.

Details – Your ticket will pay for travel from and to Abergavenny train station, all meals, course content, and a place on the campsite. Let us know if you’d rather organise your own accommodation. There will be a secure indoor space to keep instruments and sound equipment safe and dry.

Age limit – You must be 18 years old or above to take part in this course for safety reasons. If you are under 18 then have a look at our Ecological Futures Camp.




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