Building the World

Can Culture Influence the Environment? Itaipu and Belo Monte


Image: justica global brasil.

Brazil is preparing for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics. During both events, visitors and locals alike will consume energy as well as libations. Some may visit Itaipu, considered one of the seven wonders of the modern world. Built by Paraguay and Brazil, the hydroelectric power plant generates enormous energy, and also art. Inspired by the music of its rushing waters, Philip Glass composed “Itaipu,” a symphonic cantata for chorus and orchestra in four movements (1989) with libretto in Guarani, language of the indigenous people of the area, in whose parlance Itaipu means “Singing Stone.” Environmental complexities invite comparison of Itaipu to the controversial Belo Monte Dam, a comparison that extends to music. During Sao Paulo’s Lollapalooza 2012, musician Ken Jordan of The Crystal Method led a chant of “Pare Belo Monte” (, amplifing the power of  music to influence policy. What is the relation of culture to the environment?

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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