The Tesla Quartet premiered the first installment of their monumental 2-year climate change hybrid performance project with the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at University of Maryland. Called "Rising Tides," the program addresses the impacts of climate change on the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, and features two new string quartet works, as well as a new collection of visual works by photographer Jay Fleming. Adding another dimension to the project, the Tesla Quartet and The Clarice have partnered with the ImmerSphere augmented reality platform to offer the audience the opportunity to experience this music in two ways. The hybrid performance premiered as both live and in augmented reality, where viewers can experience the commissioned works in uniquely curated 360° virtual environments. 

Rising Tides: Program Offering 

Adeliia Faizullina (b. 1988) – Drops and Ripples

Alexandra Gardner (b. 1967) – Watershed

Adrian B. Sims (b. 2000) – Hope - String Quartet No. 4 

Caroline Shaw (b. 1982) – The Evergreen

Rising Tides: Program Description

The waters of the Chesapeake Bay are the lifeblood of the region, supporting not only the lives of millions of Americans, but countless species of flora and fauna. Global sea level rise as a result of climate change means that in the near future, the land and seascape of the Chesapeake Bay will be dramatically altered. Two new string quartets by Alexandra Gardner and Adrian B. Sims, commissioned by The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, aims to address the issues facing the inhabitants of the region, from habitat loss to disruptions of the fabric of everyday life. 

The program opens with “Drops and Ripples,” a brief quartet by Tatar composer Adeliia Faizullina, which the Tesla Quartet commissioned in 2020. The work comprises a series of episodes whose musical material precipitates from a single pizzicato, like the first drops of water in a mountain stream that are destined for the ocean.

A new quartet by Alexandra Gardner focuses on fast-disappearing Hooper’s Island in south Dorchester County, Maryland. Once a bustling fishery, the island and surrounding areas are being overtaken by the water that once sustained them. Gardner explores musical ideas such as gestures like waves—that rise and reach a crest, then pull away—and of material that begins complete and that gets stripped away into a single line. Sea chanteys sung by Black fishermen on the Chesapeake in the 19th and 20th centuries are also lightly referenced.

The second commissioned work, by Adrian B. Sims, explores themes of serenity, destruction, and hope. The work begins calmly, representing the breathtaking scenery. This peaceful introduction is then disrupted by natural and man-made phenomena, creating dissonance in both the music and the environment. The music ends with a vision for the future — a vision of hope that we will treat our environment more kindly going forward.

The program closes with Caroline Shaw’s “The Evergreen,” a reflective work that considers the enormous age and beauty of nature as embodied in a scraggly, moss-covered forest pine. The music offers a meditation on the complexity and interconnectedness of beings of the natural world.

Augmented Reality "Walking Concert"

In addition to the live performance centerpiece, it is also possible to host an augmented reality (AR) "walking concert" of the works by Gardner, Sims, and Faizullina. In the walking concert, seven AR spheres are geo-pinned across the landscape of your choice. Each sphere consists of a 360-degree video environment from the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, with the Tesla Quartet performing music inside. Users are able to activate the experiences by scanning QR codes from their smartphone.

Photo Credit: Jay Fleming, commissioned by The Clarice