Well-Being Cities

Oct 17, 2022, 08:31 AM

Well-Being Cities is a unique collaboration between Cities and Memory and C40, a global network of mayors of nearly 100 world-leading cities collaborating to deliver the urgent action needed right now to confront the climate crisis.

Thirty-five artists from 14 countries all over the world were chosen from a global open call for applications. 

Each has taken inspiration from a field recording from one of 36 cities around the world, including 21 of the C40 cities themselves. 

The compositions cover a staggering array of creative styles, from spoken word and radio art to ambient music, electroacoustic compositions and full-on electronic reworkings. 

Just as varied as the musical and sonic approaches taken are the thematic addresses of the project’s central questions. Compositions reflect on the impact of the Covid-19 lockdowns, climate change, the homogenisation of the modern city, rising urban noise levels, the incorporation of sound into city planning and the collision of the modern with the traditional. 

At the heart of the project is one central, 21-minute composition entitled “Well-Being Cities”. This composition is built from a selection of reimagined compositions and original field recordings to create a coherent musical narrative that takes the listener on a journey through the themes addressed by the project.

We begin, as many great novels do, in a train station, as we commence our journey in Ho Chi Min City and Kigali with two piano pieces that ask us to take a breath and consider how noise invades and permeates our urban environment. In France, we pause to meditate and think about those spaces in a city that truly invite reflection, quiet and peace, and how these can be preserved and cherished. 

From here, the piece takes a darker turn, as a potential nuclear threat emerges, mixed with considerations of defensive architecture, smart cities and the climate crisis.

Heeding the warning of today’s young people, the piece moves on to ask us how we can work together to co-create a sustainable city that priorities health and well-being, by learning from one another – and, crucially, learning to truly listen to our cities. 

Finally, as the pace and urgency picks up, our Well-Being Cities journey ends in the unique urban environment of Venice, running through a rapid-fire wishlist of desires, from community and energy-saving to creative spaces that offer something for everyone. We end on a note of hope and commitment from the “can-do generation” to work together for the benefit of those around us – and those who will follow us. 

The “Well-Being Cities” central composition includes excerpts from 17 countries: Chile, Croatia, Cuba, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Italy, Kenya, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, Poland, Rwanda, Turkey and Vietnam.