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According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), sea levels rose 3.4 inches between 1993 and 2019. This was due in no small part to an increase in meltwater from the planet’s glaciers and ice sheets as well as thermal expansion within the world’s warming oceans. As a result of this and an uptick in extreme weather events, 5 of the Solomon Islands, 8 Micronesian Islands, and 1 island each in the Hawaiian and Japanese Archipelagos have disappeared in recent years in the Pacific Ocean alone. To acknowledge the existential threat man-made climate change is to island civilizations worldwide, Vanishing recasts the piano as a soft, delicate world out of balance. The pianist navigates an archipelago (real or imagined) with islands represented by pitch-based sonorities and the sea represented by an exaggerated version of the mechanical noises made by the pedals, keys, and dampers. These are noises that typically only support the instrument’s sonic output, but here, they rise to encroach upon the land.
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