Lucas Richman conducting the Bangor Symphony Orchestra. Credit: Monty Rand / Bangor Symphony Orchestra

Composer and conductor Lucas Richman’s symphony about climate change will be included in a new exhibit at the Maine Discovery Museum.

“The Warming Sea,” a composition about global warming, will be used as a way to explain what scientists know about climate change, according to Kate Dickerson, director of the Maine Science Festival. 

The exhibit will include a video of the performance and the pre-show talk as well as a video showing Richman learning about climate change from scientists. It also will include information about the next steps individuals and society need to take to slow down global warming.

The festival commissioned the piece from Richman and the Bangor Symphony Orchestra. It was set to premiere in March 2020 when the pandemic shut down the festival and delayed the orchestral work’s premiere for two years.

“We are going to use our regional/national/international network of museums and public science events to encourage their own programming using ‘The Warming Sea’ as a template for others to explore hope and climate change in their area,” Dickerson said. “We will be working with Lucas Richman as he reaches out to his network of artists to do the same.”

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“The Warming Sea” finally was performed this month, on March 19, but without Richman at the podium conducting. Four days before he was to finally conduct the piece before an audience, Richman had an emergency appendectomy that prevented him from conducting but not from attending the concert.

“It was extraordinary to have the opportunity to hear all of these wonderful instrumentalists and singers invest themselves in the realization of a work that speaks to the future of our children’s planet,” Richman said. “Frankly, since the postponement of this piece, we’ve seen an even further degradation of our climate and natural resources so the piece felt, to me, even more powerful and poignant in the moment.”

To prepare for the composing process, Dickerson took Richman to learn from scientists and activists throughout the state about how climate change is affecting the Gulf of Maine, which is warming more rapidly than virtually any other section of ocean.

Richman used 200 years of temperature variations to write 200 measures, each representing a year in Maine’s history and the average temperature data from that year. He included history in the piece, such as a foghorn introduced in 1859, in that particular measure.

“I have found that inspiration comes from the most unique places,” Richman said in early 2020. “Included with the standard orchestra, I will have ‘found’ elements that are added to the percussion section including the use of seashells and other elements that will invoke the environment and the ocean.”

The composer also wrote music for a women’s chorus, who represented the climate change deniers, and the Bangor Area Children’s Choir, who sang of hope for their future on the planet.

Dickerson is confident there will be more artistic collaborations involving the Maine Science Festival.

“I think using science to help inform art is vital for increasing understanding of the world around us, whether that’s something like an art exhibit on fish run species or commissioning a symphonic piece,” she said.

The performance of “The Warming Sea” and the pre-show discussion is streaming through April 5 at The cost is $10 per household.