New Mexico, Contemporary Music & Doomsday Clock

CRAS Ensemble. Courtesy photo

MUSIC News: 

CRAS Ensemble, a Danish contemporary music group has just launched a Doomsday Clock-inspired project with several connections to New Mexico.
The initiation of IN OUR TIME marks the beginning of a potentially endless artistic project in which global events, including international security and existential threats such as nuclear weapons and climate change, will be turned into a huge, constantly evolving piece of music.
IN OUR TIME will consist of an unknown number of movements, called “chapters”, each lasting about 15 minutes. These chapters will be written by various composers who take over exactly where the previous one ended, and over the next few years it will become one big uninterrupted and constantly growing creative process. The music will evolve in parallel with time and the world that surrounds us, and thus IN OUR TIME is not only inspired by global events but also initiated by them.
THE DOOMSDAY CLOCK is a world-renowned symbol created in 1947 by the organization Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in order to provide an easy-to-understand picture of how close we are to destroying our world with dangerous technologies of our own making. In relation to IN OUR TIME, the Doomsday Clock plays a crucial role, with future adjustments of the time signaling that a new composer is to begin writing the next chapter.
“IT IS STILL 2 MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT!” In January 2018 the time was set at 2 minutes to midnight, largely due to nuclear risk, and at a press conference three weeks ago the Bulletin’s Security and Science Council announced that the minute hand will remain at that position: “Humanity now faces two simultaneous existential threats, either of which would be cause for extreme concern and immediate attention. These major threats – nuclear weapons and climate change – were exacerbated this past year by the increased use of information warfare to undermine democracy around the world, amplifying risk from these and other threats and putting the future of civilization into extraordinary danger. “
The only other time the minute hand has been set this close to midnight was in 1953 after the United States and the Soviet Union each tested their first thermonuclear weapons within six months of one another.
THE GOAL WITH IN OUR TIME is to create a piece of music that is in constant dialogue with our world. At a time when international institutions such as the EU and NATO are characterized by turmoil and distrust, and where there is a tendency to countries turning their backs on international cooperation, we wish to expand the traditional concert format and create events where art and security policy communication goes hand in hand, and where cross-border collaborations – artistic, scientific, national – is a natural.
A stabilization of the security policy tensions that characterize our world is a common concern, and therefore IN OUR TIME is an international project in constant motion.
NEW MEXICO was the “birthplace” of the atomic bomb, and the American desert state also is the place where IN OUR TIME takes its beginning. Right now, composer José Luis Hurtado, Assistant Professor of Theory and Composition at the University of New Mexico, is in the process of writing Chapter 1, which is expected to be premiered in Copenhagen, Denmark in January 2020.
CRAS ENSEMBLE consists of six classical guitarists dedicated to contemporary music and art. Founded in Copenhagen in 2017, it focuses on the development of new concert formats, interdisciplinary collaborations and artistic narratives, which offer new perspectives and makes the music accessible to a wider audience.
JOSÉ-LUIS HURTADO holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University where he studied with, among others, Brian Ferneyhough and Helmut Lachenmann. He has been the recipient of six international awards and his music is performed by the world’s leading ensembles including: Boston Modern Orchestra Project, JACK Quartet, International Contemporary Ensemble, Le Nouvel Ensemble Modern and Arditti Quartet.
BULLETIN OF THE ATOMIC SCIENTISTS was founded in 1945 by Manhattan Project scientists who “could not remain aloof of the consequences of their work.” Today the Bulletin is an independent, nonprofit organization whose mission is to equip the public, policy makers and scientists with the information needed to demand, recognize, and support public policies that reduce manmade existential threats such as nuclear war, climate change and disruptive technologies.
The iconic Doomsday Clock is characterized by an efficient and timeless design – when it was introduced in 1947, the minute hand was set at seven minutes to midnight, and since then it has been reset 24 times.
The decision to change the time is made by the Bulletin’s Security and Science Council in close dialogue with their Board of Sponsors, which was founded by Albert Einstein, and at the time of writing includes 14
Nobel Laureates.
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