Stanley Grill

Stanley Grill
is a ClimateCultures Author

A composer of music that attempts to translate something about the nature of the physical world or promote world peace, sparking positive thoughts and inspiring change.

I have been composing music for my entire adult life, always with the intention of making sounds that spark positive thoughts and emotions in those who hear it – and inspire change. Two main themes permeate many of my compositions – music composed in an attempt to translate something about the nature of the physical world, and music composed to inspire and promote world peace. In more recent years, as the dangers of climate change have become palpably evident, coupled with the equally evident unwillingness of humanity to adequately respond to the warning signs, I began work on a MUSIC FOR THE EARTH project.

The music I’ve composed in the past several years is intended to evoke thoughts about the necessity and responsibility of our species to act as caretakers, rather than destroyers, of the life that surrounds us. This includes:

GAIA’S SONG (2021) for piano and chamber orchestra. A vision for humanity that is built on hope rather than the reality of human nature, one where humans come to recognize our responsibilities as caretakers rather than destroyers of the earth and the living creatures with whom we share the planet. This is gentle music, intended to inspire a gentler approach to living. 

SULLA NATURA (2021) for string quartet. Music inspired by five poems about nature by Italian poets. Alla Sera, by Ugo Foscolo; Il lampo, by Giovanni Pascoli; L’infinito, by Giacomo Leopardi; Nevicata, by Giosuè Carducci; and I gatti lo sapranno, by Cesare Pavese. 

ODE TO THEIA (2021) for string quartet. In desperate need of light, literal and figurative, I thought about the deities of light while writing this quartet. There are many – various Aztec gods of the stars, the Egyptian Nefertem, the Hindu Aruna and Ushas, the Germanic Freyr and Baldr – but the one that most appealed to me as I wrote down notes was Theia, the Greek Titaness of sight and the shining light of the clear blue sky, also called Euryphaessa, or “wide-shining”. An ode to Theia – may she bring light to a world that grows darker by the day. 

GAIA’S LAMENT (2020) for violin and orchestra. The young activist Greta Thunberg had sailed to the U.S. on a solar-powered sailing vessel and having been invited to speak before the assembled members, gave all of the adults in the room the thrashing they well deserved. With all of this going on, somehow a scene from the 1960 film of H.G. Wells's The Time Machine kept coming to mind – a brief scene where he travels to the far, far distant future to arrive to find a dying earth, a huge red sun suspended on the horizon, and a desolate landscape nearly devoid of life. It was with this somber vision that I set about writing music, filled with sorrow at what our species is doing to our only home, with little hope that we have the awareness, rationality or willingness to act as we must. 

THE WHIRR OF WINGS (2020) for chorus, flute, viola and cello. Music intended as a reminder of our responsibility to serve as protectors rather than destroyers of our Mother Earth, this choral work sets poems by Lola Ridge, Stephen Crane, Carl Sandburg, Jane Hirshfield, May Sarton and Joy Harjo. 

My hope is that through the ClimateCultures network, I will find other similarly minded artists who would like to collaborate on projects aimed at achieving environmental sanity.

Creative Showcase

Stanley has contributed a piece on his recording of AHIMSA to our Creative Showcase, an evolving collection of new and recent works from our members. His composition expresses the ancient Jain, Hindu and Buddhist concept of 'ahimsa' - 'non-harm' in our relationship with the rest of the natural world - in his learning not only from great historic figures but from the example of his own grandfather.

You can find Stanley's earlier showcase contribution piece on 'Remember', his collaboration with choreographer and dancer Mariko Endo, in our Creative Showcase Archive.

Stanley's ClimateCultures posts

Living (and Composing) in the Anthropocene

Living (and Composing) in the Anthropocene

Composer Stanley Grill shares his Music for the Earth project and how his feelings about climate change have a way of turning into music evoking connections with the natural world and our obligation to be caretakers, not destroyers. Read More