Earth Day Concert Leads to Lawsuit

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Nathan Currier, an award-winning classical composer, has filed suit in New York State Supreme Court against the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra for failing to complete the world premiere performance of his work Gaian Variations.

I am not doing this for publicity, and certainly not for financial gain. The botched performance destroyed the message of Gaian Variations, and it is a message I feel is urgent.

Nathan Currier, an award-winning classical composer, has filed suit in Supreme Court of the State of New York Kings County (Index No. 7661/2009) against the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra for failing to complete the world premiere performance of his work Gaian Variations.

In celebration of Earth Day 2004, renowned scientist James Lovelock's Gaia Theory was to be put to a new sort of experiment - by being cast into a symphonic composition. At Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall, Currier's evening length piece was to have its premiere, performed by the Brooklyn Philharmonic, as reported last week in the New York Post.

When it became evident that neither of the two not-for-profit organizations who were committed to backing the premiere - Earth Day Network and the Brooklyn Philharmonic - could raise the money for the concert, Currier put in his savings. "I was willing," Currier says, "because I felt and still feel that no idea is more urgent today. The most famous climate scientist, James Hansen, has suggested that we will soon be consigned to 'a different planet.' If the arctic essentially disappears in a few years, should we try technological solutions to save it? Public opinion will be important, yet the public is utterly unprepared for this. The simplest way to understand our situation is through Gaia Theory, which sees our planet as one vast metabolism. I saw it as both poetic and important science, and spent five years on the work," stated Currier. Prominent composer John Corigliano described the parts he heard as, "Just beautiful. Very, very skilled work, and very inspired too."

Things went drastically awry, though, according to papers filed in Court, when the concert was stopped mid-stream during the premiere, orchestra officials claiming they were going into overtime. The New York Times then harshly criticized the composition, saying the composer 'seemed unable to end the work,' that the concert had been stopped 'as the piece neared the three hour mark,' and that the text itself was 'pseudoscientific.'

"Unlike Gaia Theory, the math is pretty simple here," said attorney Alex T. Roshuk, who is representing Currier in the case against the orchestra, "because, despite the New York Times' claims, the audio recording easily shows that the orchestra played for slightly under two hours, which for a three hour call is decidedly not 'going into overtime. Our position," continued Roshuk, "is that the breach stemmed from the orchestra management's misinterpretation of union rules regarding intermissions."

After the orchestra said they were heading into overtime, the suit further alleges, Currier acquiesced to making last-minute cuts. The orchestra did not perform them, however, and instead abruptly ended the concert at about 10:44 p.m. Currier was given a pro bono lawyer through Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts shortly after the performance, but when it was discovered that a client of the same law firm was on the Board of Directors of the Brooklyn Philharmonic, he lost representation. The case was forwarded to another law firm, but, being pro bono work, languished there. Currier then approached Mr. Roshuk, formerly counsel to the Wikipedia Foundation, who also worked as a manager and administrator in various arts organizations.

"Not long before the premiere," Currier says, "under the aegis of the United Nations, more than 1,000 scientists from around the world signed a declaration stating 'The Earth System behaves as a single self-regulating system,' the central tenet of Gaia Theory. Now the next report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, due in 2012, will for the first time use many of the gaian 'feedbacks' from life forms - material explained for the layperson in my Gaian Variations - in the climate models. But it might be too late."

Roshuk says his client does not want to harm the orchestra. "I think they're a fine orchestra," said Currier. "I am not doing this for publicity, and certainly not for financial gain. The botched performance destroyed the message of Gaian Variations, and it is a message I feel is urgent." Roshuk notes that his client would happily settle the suit if the work could be played again in its entirety.

For more information about this litigation please contact: Alex T. Roshuk at +1(718)552-7569 or through his website: http://www.roshuklaw.com. For more information on Nathan Currier consult his website at http://www.nathankindcurrier.com where a biography and musical excerpts will be found. A historical website promoting the performance can be found at http://www.gaianvariations.com.

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