Interdisciplinary dialogue

Pastorale for the Planet and the Polar Perspective

Art and science celebrate frozen landscapes and their connection to us
[05. September 2021] 

On Sunday, 5 September 2021, from 2:00 pm there will be a symposium on German-French cooperation in polar research and the arts, held at the University of the Arts Bremen, Speicher XI. Prior to the evening performance of Ludwig von Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 “Pastorale” at the BLG Forum, as part of the Music Festival Bremen science and the arts will celebrate the frigid worlds of the poles in a joint event, streamed online.


moderated by: Antje Boetius (Director Alfred Wegener Institute) and Thomas Albert (Director Musikfest Bremen)

14:00  Opening
With greeting words from the city mayor Andreas Bovenschulte and the culture attachée Karin Fouledeau from the French Embassy in Germany     

14:15  Nature – Cuture – Future
Art facing global warming!

A roundtable discussion with:

  • Laurence Equilbay (conducter Insula orchestra)
  • Carlus Padrissa (director Theater Fura dels Baus)
  • Antje Boetius (director Alfred Wegener Institute)

moderated by Thomas Albert (director Musikfest Bremen) and Ashok Adiceam (artistic director Eté Polaire)

14:45  Polar life and us
Antje Boetius, polar resaercher, director Alfred Wegener Institute

15:00  Eté Polaire – Polar activities during the french summer 2021
Mikaa Mered, head of Eté Polaire

15:15  An Arctic view on climate scienve and music
Live from the french / german research station AWIPEV
Gregory Tran (station leader) and Fieke Rader (observatory engineer)

15:30 – 15:50 Break

15:50  Celebrating polar life and landscapes through photography
Esther Horvath, documentary photographer

16:10  The sound of polar seascapes
Elena Schall, marine biologist

16:25  Closing statements
roundtable discussion

16:35  End


The event (in English) will be streamed live here and on the AWI YouTube channel starting at 2 p.m. on Sepember 5.

Background information

Beethoven’s “Pastorale” stands for the inspiration at the heart of the arts. In this regard, the composer himself wrote that “... for do not forests, trees, rocks re-echo that for which humankind longs?” and sought to also capture the natural power of storms. With their performance of “Pastorale for the Planet”, Laurence Equilbey and her Insula Orchestra, together with Carlus Padrissa and his Catalonian theatre collective La Fura dels Baus, offer a storm for the senses.

On 5 September, just before the performance begins, both artists will discuss with Prof Thomas Albert, Artistic Director of the Music Festival Bremen, and marine biologist Prof Antje Boetius (Director of the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI)) how the arts and science can join forces to give nature a voice of its own.

In cooperation with the French initiative “Polar Summer” (Eté polaire), a series of events in 26 cities across France, artists involved will participate in the symposium, accompanied by artists performing the concert in the evening. By doing so, they hope to raise awareness for how we human beings are changing our planet, and which unique landscapes and lifeforms we should cherish.

There will be award-winning photographs to see – e.g. a sampling of those taken by AWI photographer Esther Horvath during the MOSAiC expedition to the Arctic. And just as Beethoven once sought to set the nightingale to music, the arts and science come together to provide a stage for the sounds produced by whales, seals and the ice itself. Further, a live-feed to the staff of the German-French research station AWIPEV on Spitsbergen will provide a direct link to the Arctic.

What motivated the symposium’s initiators?

Prof Antje Boetius, Director of the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research:
“As a polar and marine researcher, I’m always deeply moved by the beautiful and dramatic landscape of the ice-covered ocean. There is so much to discover and so much to cherish on the planet that is our home. Nature provides so much inspiration for science and the arts. But we are now at a turning point with the question of how the polar systems will develop as a result of severe climate change and the effects that we can expect. Human activity is responsible for global heating and pollution, which is why it’s become so urgent that we find a new balance with nature, including the wonderful white habitat that we are celebrating with the symposium and concert in Bremen and in the livestream.

Prof Thomas Albert, Artistic Director of the Music Festival Bremen:
“With the ‘Pastorale for the Planet’ project, which presents Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony as a dialogue between humankind and nature in music, we want to build a bridge to the present and our current relationship with nature. After all, pressing issues related to aspects such as climate change and environmental protection haven’t only arisen since the latest world climate report. Today, more than ever, it is vital to appeal to humankind’s powers to intervene, and to bring about changes — ideally starting with our own self image and our awareness of the problem.”

Ashok Adicéam, Curator Eté polaire:
“Nature has always inspired or even ‘conducted’ artists towards forms and emotions transformed into Art... Both are intrinsically related. Nature being at the essence of art but also as a refuge and a reservoir of creation. If part of the very future of humans in the "Anthropocene" - the era of the human being so hegemonic that he has become a geological force capable of modifying the planet itself- is played out in our two terrestrial poles, it is more than relevant to include a great production such as ‘Pastorale for the Planet’ within an ambitious artistic program around the Arctic and Antarctic. Calling for the conception, the study and the enjoyment of Art in the global warming context.”

In collaboration with French partners brought together by “Ete polaire – Polar Summer » including Institut Polaire Français / Fonds de dotation Paul-Emile Victor and Olivier Poivre d’Arvor, Ambassadeur des pôles et des enjeux maritimes.


Subscribe to AWI press release RSS feed

The Institute

The Alfred Wegener Institute pursues research in the polar regions and the oceans of mid and high latitudes. As one of the 19 centres of the Helmholtz Association it coordinates polar research in Germany and provides ships like the research icebreaker Polarstern and stations for the international scientific community.