Italian pianist and composer Ludovico Einaudi floats in front of a glacier as part of latest Greenpeace campaign.

Italian pianist, composer and Decca recording artist Ludovico Einaudi has performed the premiere performance of his new work, Elegy for the Arctic, floating in front of a glacier as part of Greenpeace’s Save the Arctic campaign.

Elegy for the Arctic is inspired by the beauty of the Arctic and the threats that it currently faces from climate change. The new work was performed on a grand piano, balanced on an artificial iceberg in front of the magnificent Wahlenbergbreen glacier in Svalbard, Norway. As Einaudi plays his poignant music – without gloves – sheets of ice break off the glacier and crash into the ocean.

Einaudi was transported to the Wahlenbergbreen glacier on the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise, along with a petition signed by eight million people. “Being here has been a great experience,” Einaudi said, speaking from the ship. “I could see the purity and fragility of this area with my own eyes and interpret a song I wrote to be played in the best stage in the world. It is important that we understand the importance of the Arctic, stop the process of destruction and protect it.”

Ironically, it appears there was not enough ice in the area where he was due to perform, owing to the effects of climate change, and so Greenpeace built an artifical iceberg, made from 300 triangles of wood stuck together and weighing a total of nearly two tonnes. The grand piano was then placed on top, after being transported from a factory in Germany to the Arctic in the hold of the Arctic Sunrise.

Einaudi’s performance coincided with a meeting in Tenerife, Spain, by delegates of the OSPAR convention – a mechanism by which 15 Governments and the European Union cooperate to protect the marine environment of the North-East Atlantic. The delegates discussed a proposal that, according to Greenpeace, would safeguard 10% of the Artic ocean. “The Arctic ocean is the least protected sea in the world,” a statement on the Greenpeace website says, “Its high seas currently have no legal safeguards. As the ice cover decreases with rising temperatures, this unique area is losing its frozen shield, leaving it exposed to reckless exploitation, destructive fishing trawlers and risky oil drilling.”

Greenpeace’s campaign aims to put pressure on OSPAR to protect the Arctic and singles out Norway, Denmark and Iceland as countries that oppose the current proposal. “Until they change their view, those who would risk the Arctic should not be heard over those calling to protect what we love, not over Ludovico’s music, not over the piano and the glacier, not over eight million voices.”

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