What Happens if the Pipes Burst? (2022)
String Ensemble (minimum 4 4 3 3 1 players)
String quintet version also available
Commissioned by the Kinetic Ensemble
Premiered October 9, 2022 at MATCH
Climate change is a global issue—which means, in a sinister way, that it is impersonal, detached to the everyday life of the city dweller, coming to light only when it appears on a screen.
On February of 2021, this changed for the people of Houston.
Hit with a freeze that disabled the power grid for much of the city, some 4.5 million homes and business lost power for days. Without the basic infrastructure to combat such conditions, people froze in their homes. Lives were lost.
And like that, the climate crisis had at last found itself on my own doorstep. Everything seemed frozen over: travel plans, grocery lists, roads, rendezvous, etc. For the first time in my fortunate life, my access to basic needs was cut off.
Sitting in sobriety amongst cast iron pots filled with boiling water for warmth, disconnected from my neighbors and the world around me, I felt for the first time the powerlessness humans have against nature—how a drop in temperature could reduce our normalcy to zero.
“What Happens if the Pipes Burst” was my way of questioning my personal safety during the Houston freeze, but is also a question of the many freezes that are to come if we continue to abuse the environment we live in.
– Nicky Sohn