I promised my mother—creative drama specialist and author Dr. Rosilyn Wilder—that I would revitalize her favorite of my compositions, The Roaring Brook Fiddler, just days before her passage in 2006. My jazz opera, The Roaring Brook Fiddler had premiered in 1993 in in St. Peter’s Church, the jazz church of New York City, and was recorded later that year with musicians such as Rufus Reid, Dave Samuels, and others. It told the story of a young girl who lives in the “ancient future,” the future, as it will be if we continue to pollute our environment. The girl lives in a city encased in glass and the local “zoo” can only offer movies about nature. Ultimately, it’s the songs of the few remaining birds in a dead forest that revitalize a tree and turn it into her violin. She goes on to heal the planet with music. Some may call this optimistic vision of music and humanity naïve and unrealistic, but I’ve always believed in and fostered the individual’s ability to change and to effect change.
After Mom died I realized that one person and one piece of performance art would not be able to travel the distance I envisioned. I wanted to include my priorities as a music educator with my dedication to the environment by creating an eco-action curriculum designed to inspire and educate young people to protect the environment. I created THE GREEN ANTHEM, a project that was eventually embraced by The National Association for Music Education (NAfME), to reach 6 million young people nationwide in 2010.
We are all the custodians of this precious planet and the survival of all living creatures
depends on the decisions we make NOW.
My love for the incredible natural beauty in this country (and world) developed at an early age. I grew up camping every summer with my family and sat in the audience with them at Pete Seeger’s first fund-raising concert to clean up the Hudson River. He built the Hudson River Sloop with that money and I had the opportunity to be a member of the crew when I was sixteen and helped pass the Clean Water Act. This experience educated me about the need for each one of us to protect the world we live in.
In early 2008, I decided to dedicate seven months (which ballooned to fifteen months plus…) of my life to create this heartfelt contribution to a sustainable earth. The Green Anthem started out as a piece of music … an anthem for the planet. Then the project organically evolved into an interdisciplinary teaching curriculum designed to simultaneously foster 21st century music education and mobilize America’s youth with eco-friendly projects and concerts. In addition to the Green Anthem Teacher’s Manual with lesson plans and the Green Anthem Student Kit, I composed scores for string orchestra, band, and chorus. This was the first time I conceived of interlocking multi-level scores I would soon be invited by Kendor Music to compose (Bollywood Strings, TechnoStrings, and A Cinematic Journey) and later, the Newtown Peace Anthem for Alfred Publishing.
The Green Anthem song
Recorded by the Concert Choir of the Connecticut Children’s Chorus (Hartt School Community Division)
Sallie Ferrebee and Stuart Younse, Conductors
With the Simsbury Singers, Simsbury High School, Stuart Younse, Conductor
Filmed and edited by Julie Lyonn Lieberman, Recorded by Pat Fiorillo
Composed by Julie Lyonn Lieberman © 2009 Julie Lyonn Music
Inspired by my green initiative, The Music Educators National Conference chose to include The Green Anthem as one of the songs for the 2010 The World’s Largest Concert. They also ran The Green Anthem lyric-writing competition and made the The Green Anthem lesson plans available to their -person membership nationwide. NAfME also decided to focus their program “Music! Just Imagine …” essay-writing contest on green topics for 2010.