Auksalaq, A Climate Change Opera

Stylized scene of icy water and terrain overlaid with notation used in Auksalaq performances

A significant cultural event that marries science as the brain, art as the heart, and culture as the soul in our search for awareness and sustainability
– National Geographic

Auksalaq: the Inupiat word for melting snow/ice.

Journey into the vast, remote, and rapidly changing arctic regions of Alaska and Canada in this visually stunning, provocative event. Created by composer Matthew Burtner and media artist Scott Deal with a team of scientists, visual artists and cultural leaders, the work provides a stirring and sobering commentary on global climate change.

Meet the Artist: Auksalaq begins with Matthew Burtner taking you behind the scenes to explore his creative process and discuss the musical temporalities of climate change.

About Matthew Burtner

Matthew Burtner is an Alaskan-born composer, sound artist, and eco-acoustician whose music explores embodiment, ecology, polytemporality, and noise. In addition to being awarded first prize at the Musica Nova International Electroacoustic Music Competition (Czech Republic), the 2011 IDEA Award, and the Howard Brown Foundation Fellowship, Burtner has also received honors and awards at numerous international competitions: Bourges (France), Gaudeamus (Netherlands), Darmstadt (Germany) and Russolo (Italy). He is Professor of Composition and Computer Technologies (CCT) at the University of Virginia, and Director of the environmental arts non-profit organization, EcoSono.

Burtner’s works have been performed around the world and commissioned by ensembles such as NOISE (USA), Integrales (Germany), Peak FreQuency (USA), MiN (Norway), Musikene (Spain), Spiza (Greece), CrossSound (Alaska), and others. His work has been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Science Foundation, and he has created music for the US State Department. His research in ecoacoustics has been featured by NASA’s Goddard Space Center, the American Geophysical Union, The Atlantic, Earther and the Center for Energy Studies in the Humanities (CENHS) at Rice University.

He is the composer of three evening-length multimedia opera/theater works — Ukiuq Tulugaq (Winter Raven), Kuik, and Auksalaq. A 2010/2011 Provost Fellow at the Center for 21st Century Studies at UWM, Burtner has also conducted long-term residencies at the Banff Centre for the Arts (Canada), Phonos Foundation/Pompeu Fabra Universidad (Spain), Musikene (Spain), Cite des Arts (France), IRCAM/Centre Pompidou (France), and the University of Missouri Kansas City (USA). Among published recordings for Parma/Ravello (US), DACO (Germany), The WIRE (UK), Innova (US), Summit (US) Centaur (US), EcoSono (US) and Euridice (Norway), his music is available on several solo albums: That which is bodiless is reflected in bodies, The Ceiling Floats Away, Glacier Music, NOISE plays Burtner, Auksalaq Live at the Philips Collection, MICE World Tour, Signal Ruins, Metasaxophone Colossus and Portals of Distortion.

As a technologist, Burtner develops systems for human-computer-environment interaction featured in his music. He invented the NOMADS telematic system, the MICE human-computer ensemble and orchestra, the Metasaxophone augmented instrument, and a number of ecoacoustic approaches.

His composer’s talk, “Musical Temporalities of Climate Change,” will explain how performance art models global human-nature interactions and how music offers methods for addressing complex temporalities.

Artist's Website

Auksalaq: A Telematic Opera

Performance of Auksalaq