Alumnus Sam Goldscheider wants us all to be more in tune with the environment, by adopting a more sustainable way of living.
Sam (Music 2007) manages orchestras at the Verbier Festival, an international classical music event that takes place each summer in the mountain town of the same name in Switzerland.
And now he has launched a collaborative project, Harmonic Progression, targeted at the classical music industry, but applicable to all, with the aim of creating positive changes to reduce environmental impact.
“Classical music is a tiny industry, but any little thing you do which is a positive thing is adding up to a real movement,” says Sam.
“Harmonic Progression offers those in the classical music world information about the environmental and social problems we face, and simple ways in which everyone in the industry, no matter whether they’re a performer, manager or audience member, can help to resolve them, both in their professional and private lives.
“Pop and jazz have been working on sustainability for many, many years. In classical music there’s not that much discussion about this topic, so I created a discussion. I wanted to get people to start thinking.
“I hope a lot of people in classical music find out about Harmonic Progression. I hope it makes them think, find out what issues we’re facing, and to see we can in an easy, fulfilling, and meaningful way, make little changes to do things and help.
“The ‘ways’ are in this case ‘tasks’. So we’ve come up with a list of ‘tasks’, and we encourage people to take them on. We try to make them fun and inspired, rather than heavy and inaccessible.
“We update them regularly, and some are topical, so for example we have a Black Friday task (we called it: ‘Culture over Consumption’, and the idea is to give the money you would spend buying material things that day to a cultural organisation instead) and we’ll have some Christmas ones too.
“To avoid them being like New Year’s resolutions that are forgotten after a few weeks, we give people a timeline, to encourage them to finish them. They have one month.
“Then we send them a survey to see how they went, and ask them to send photos or descriptions of what they did. We put these up on our website, to celebrate what people are doing, and encourages others to follow suit.”
Sam acknowledges the state of inertia many feel on environmental issues, but wants people to make small changes. Sam wants to encourage changes in the way everyday items are used, or asks individuals to consider their transport choices, like whether the train is a viable alternative to flying.
He says: “One of the big reasons people aren’t doing anything is because these things aren’t tangible and the changes are happening over a long period of time.
“However, when you start to do these things, you realise how imbalanced our lives and societies are. We have no idea how much energy we consume at home. We’re so out of touch with what’s going on.
“It’s about trying to get everyone doing a little bit. I try to make it a positive thing, celebrating what is going on, what is possible, the small things people are doing, and making heroes out of more people, albeit in a modest way.
“It’s still the people already interested engaging in the project – I’d like to reach those who aren’t that interested. But we need to inspire people to make the choice themselves, rather than make them do something.
“Harmonic Progression is a concept which can easily be emulated among any group of people, and what I’m really hoping for is that others copy the idea, and lots of people include doing things for the planet and society as part of their daily life.
“They can create their own tasks. Even Fitz could take it on. For example, the football team could decide it wants to do something, and set itself 10 tasks, and inspire each member of the team to take one on each month. Then they can collect some nice photos, experiences etc., and show the rest of Fitz – check out what we’ve been up to over the last six months! In a nice way, not a competitive way of course!”