A Requiem for Fossil Fuels

A combination vocal composition and sound installation pits a choir alongside the sound of traffic to bid a formal farewell to fossil fuels.

Bruce Odland and Sam Auinger are composers known as O+A. Their "Requiem for Fossil Fuels," is a combination art installation and choir piece that bids a ceremonial good-bye to petroleum and its kin. Here's how they describe it:

There come times in life when the passing of great events requires formal aknowledgment to assist in their comprehension. As we face the passing of our fossil fuel dependent way of life, we hope to gain insight by examining the sounds of our culture through the lens of the Requiem Mass.


The Requiem itself mixes the sounds of the modern soundscape—horns and internal combustion engines in city traffic—with the structured beauty you might expect from a traditional choir. When the artists first composed, it was heard only as an installation; in recent years, however, they've begun to perform it live—with both a live choir and their eight-channel "orchestra of cities," which they sync (sometimes through improvisation) with the harmonies and crescendos of the singers.

Listen to the "Requiem for Fossil Fuels."

Watch a video interview of them discussing a performance of the Requiem in Berlin.