Dispatches from the Anthropocene 

2 flutes
2 oboes*
3 Clarinets
Bass clarinet
2 Bassoons*
2 Alto saxophones
Tenor Saxophone
Baritone Saxophone
3 Trumpets
2 Horns
2 Trombones
Four Percussionists
*Oboes and Bassoons are optional and may be omitted in whole or in part should availability
require it.
Movements 1‐3 may be performed independently. Movements 4 and 5 may be combined and
performed individually under the single title, Thunberg’s Children.
Commissioned by a consortium of the following wind ensembles:
Hartwick College, Andy Pease, director (project leader)
Nazareth College, Jared Chase, director
Denison University, Chris David Westover, director
California Polytechnic University, Pomona, Rickey Badua, director
Washington and Lee University, Chris Dobbins, director
University of Charleston, John Christian, director
Gettysburg College, Russell McCutcheon, director
Friends University, Shawn Knopp, director
Three Rivers Concert Band, Kristin Tjornehoj, director
Rowan University, Joseph Higgins, director
Ramapo College, Christian Wilhjelm, director
Grinnell College, Joshua Neuenschwander, director
Kansas Wesleyan University, Carl Rowles, director
College of the Holy Cross, Ernest Jennings, director
Written in the spring and summer, 2020 in St. Louis, Missouri and Laurel, Maryland.
Duration: ca. 15 minutes
Program Note
The idea for Dispatches from the Anthropocene came about in conversation with Andy Pease, director of wind ensembles at Hartwick College, who suggested I listen
to a podcast titled The Anthropocene Reviewed. While this piece was to be originally a commentary on climate change and its socio‐political implications, the podcast
focuses not only on negative effects of human activity, but also positive ones. In that way, Dispatches from the Anthropocene became more of a series of diary entries on
the human condition and its journey to the 21st century.
The term “anthropocene” refers to our current geological period, defined by human activity as the dominant force affecting climate and the environment. “Manifest
Destiny,” the first piece in the suite, is a fanfare that gradually falls apart, much like human activity can begin with the best of intentions, but can be derailed by hubris.
The second movement, “Carousel of Progress,” is a more positive take on human ingenuity and inspiration, from the pyramids and the wheel, to the internet and
beyond. It’s followed by “Follow the Leaders,” a more negative view inspired by the miniature sculpture of the same name by the artist Isaac
Cordal. In that sculpture, a group of men (“politicians discussing climate change”) are slowly drowning in a puddle as they discuss how to solve the problem that is
gradually engulfing them.
Movement four, “Manifest Destiny: World on Fire” is a reworking of the first movement’s fanfare but, this time, as a blood‐curdling shriek of terror at the poor
state of the world. (Written in May, 2020, the blood‐curdling shriek is not only about climate change, but about global pandemic that seemingly has no end.) This
movement leads immediately to the finale, “Thunberg’s Children.” Greta Thunberg, the young, Swedish climate activist, has lit a fire in her generation
that has expanded into all areas of society. This movement is a song of hope for “Generation Z,” my daughters’ generation, which is taking a proactive role in
speaking truth to power about social justice, climate change and other issues we must face if our species and our world are to survive.
Dispatches from the Anthropocene was written in the spring and summer of 2020 in Laurel, Maryland and St. Louis, Missouri. I am indebted to Andy Pease, who led the
commissioning consortium for Dispatches from the Anthropocene and worked tirelessly as an editor with me as the piece was completed. The work is also
dedicated to my daughter, Elena, whose nascent fire, like that of Greta Thunberg’s, inspires me daily.