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Paul Walde

Requiem for a Glacier


Paul Walde
Born in London in 1968


Requiem for a Glacier




Two-channel HD video, 1/5


Duration: 40 min


Running time: 40 min


Purchase, Horsley and Annie Townsend Bequest, Ginette Trépanier Bequest, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts' Employee Fund, Deirdre M. Stevenson, François R. Roy and George R. MacLaren funds, inv. 2018.199


Quebec and Canadian Art

On July 27, 2013, fifty musicians (accompanied by a production
crew) climbed Farnham Glacier in British Columbia and performed Requiem for a Glacier, a four-movement oratorio by Victoria artist and composer Paul Walde. The requiem was created to memorialize the area, highlighting the threats that global warming and a proposed resort development posed to its environment. The libretto is a Latin translation of the March 2012 press release announcing the B.C. government’s approval of the Jumbo Glacier Resort, intended to become a year-round skiing community in an area sacred to the Ktunaxa Indigenous people and adjacent to a nature conservatory harbouring grizzly bears. The musical themes of the first two movements found their source in the letters JUMBO—alluding to the name of the resort company as well as of the glacial range (known as Qat’muk to the Ktunaxa)—and those of the third and fourth were based on temperature readings in the area from 1969 to 2010 and climate change resulting from human activity.

The video installation combines the recording of the performance with views of the glacier. In an analogy to the proposed intervention, a black rectangle overtaking the screen appears twice, obliterating the landscape. However, plans for the controversial development finally came to a halt in 2020; instead, an Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area will be created, thereby recognizing the rights of the Ktunaxa and its cultural values while protecting the land and its biodiversity.

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