The Alaska Suite: a story of beauty, loss and hope

The Alaska Suite features a five-piece chamber jazz ensemble performing the original music of Seattle pianist and composer Nelda Swiggett.  But this is not just a concert. The performance engages the power of artistic expression — live music, spoken words, images and poetry — to connect audiences deeply and emotionally to the scientific realities of climate change. The Alaska Suite debuted on Earth Day 2017. It has been performed 27 times to date, touching over 1600 people with its message of hope and call to action.

Why Alaska? While the earth has warmed on average about 2° F since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the Arctic is warming nearly twice as fast.  The impacts of climate change are significant and alarming in Alaska right now, and this should be a wake up call for all of us.


Video excerpts courtesy of videographer Bill Lange, LightPlusTime Productions, Lacey, WA.  

Podcast interview of Nelda Swiggett:

The Artists

Nelda Swiggett – piano, compositions, narrative, curated images bio
Julian Smedley – violin bio
Clif Swiggett – trombone, percussion bio
Chris Symer – bass bio
Adam Kessler – drums bio
Jill McGrath – poetry bio

A studio recording of the Alaska Suite music is now available for purchase and streaming.


“… conversations and emails have been “a buzz” of enthusiasm and appreciation for your concert and climate message. It was indeed remarkable…” 
— Linda Jack

“The combination of the music, your spoken words, and the images was magnificent. What a beautiful way to communicate many facets of climate change, and to draw people in.”  
— Elizabeth Burton

“Alaska Suite” was absolutely brilliant!”
— Tim Hunt

“… spliced with a dialogue about climate science and solutions. It touches the emotional edges of our understanding and invites action from a deeper place.”  
— Louise Stonington

“I saw and experienced the most compelling and beautiful music last night. Thank you Nelda Swiggett for the Alaska Suite. People! Bring this to your town. It’s about climate change, and Alaska, and… see it.”
— Lisa Seifert

“Congratulations on a powerful, unique, multi-sensory, beautiful and pioneering experience… this really is refreshing and arresting and it has limitless potential for other audiences…” 
— George Lawson

“I was not prepared to cry, but yet I was so moved. Not by just what you said, but the entire performance. Wow!” 
— Catherine

“All three congregations were buzzing yesterday with their response to your performance on Saturday evening.  I am … awed and inspired by the commitment of your group to getting this out there to touch and inspire others to action.  You have such a great voice — and narrative — for communicating facts and feelings — then amplified by the music — that immediately lets your audience sink into the moment and be present to the enormity of what they are witnessing and hearing.”
— Marcia Lagerloef

“… wonderfully inspiring…. The content was informative without being preachy; the music was magical…” 
— Gail M.

“I was not prepared for how the combination of an excellent jazz composition and a factual and emotional narrative about Alaskan climate change would both inform and move me. Compliments to the composer, Nelda Swiggett, and the talented and concerned musicians. Honored that my findings on guillemots and puffins responding to sea ice melt were part of the presentation.”
— George Divoky, Friends of Cooper Island

“The music was moving and beautiful… Your Alaska Suite could move many thousands of concerned people … who attend your performances to get involved in effectively fighting global warming.”
—  Sam Benowitz

“Thank you all for coming out on a busy Wednesday night to hear Nelda’s stirring composition—part love song, part sad ballad to Alaska, and part battle cry to reclaim the health of our planet. I guess we were moved by the music and the statistics and the images because we raised about $1500 for the Yes On 1631 campaign!”  
— Mary Casey, house concert host

“When I attended your performance of the Alaska Suite … I wrote that one of my climate actions would be to buy a used Nissan Leaf to replace my old VW Passat. It was quite motivating to have written that down! Now reporting back that I bought it this weekend — a 2016 Leaf SV with just 11K miles — and am feeling very happy to be driving it.”  
— Lisa Maynard



What have you done, could do, or will do to make a difference? We have been inspired by the responses of our audiences to this question. Here’s a summary of their thousands of ideas:

“. . . the most important thing you can do right now to fight climate change is to talk about it. Americans rarely talk about climate change with family and friends. Research shows that this climate silence reinforces the dangerously wrong belief that climate change isn’t an existential threat requiring urgent action.” ThinkProgress

A few suggestions:

Climate Fwd: WEEKLY: Sign up to get the latest stories and insights about climate change — along with answers to your questions and tips on how to help.

Inside Climate News: A Pulitzer Prize-winning, non-profit, non-partisan news organization dedicated to covering climate change, energy and the environment.

Green Tech Media: Free intelligence and insights from industry experts and leading companies on the global energy transformation.

Climate at the Legislature:  A continually updated account of the status of bills about climate issues in the Washington State Legislative session.

The average American generates about 16 metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent a year, more than triple the global average.1

Poster: Personal choices to reduce your contribution to climate change
PDF: High Impact Action

“…getting involved with a group can help lift your climate-related anxiety and depression in three ways: Working with like-minded folks can validate your concerns, give you needed social support, and help you move from feeling helpless to empowered… Groups are more effective than individuals.”
9 Climate Action Styles
Which One Are You?

A few suggestions

Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL)       
CCL empowers everyday people to work together on climate change solutions. Our supporters are organized in more than 400 local chapters across the United States. Together we’re building support in Congress for a national bipartisan solution to climate change. Find your local chapter.

Earth Ministry
Earth Ministry transforms faith into action for the well-being of communities and the environment. We organize people of faith to advocate for strong environmental policies and provide strategic guidance to religious communities working toward environmental justice.

Environmental Priorities Coalition
The Environmental Priorities Coalition is made up of more than 20 Washington State organizations working to safeguard our environment and the health of our communities in the legislature.

People for Climate Action (PCA) 
PCA’s mission is to help local governments develop and implement comprehensive climate action plans to reach the greenhouse gas reduction targets set by the King County-Cities Climate Collaboration, which include a 50% reduction by 2030. Find your local chapter.

Sunrise Movement
We’re building an army of young people to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process. Right now, the leaders supposed to tackle the climate crisis are either asleep at the wheel or purposely driving us toward catastrophe so their oil and gas billionaire friends can keep raking in profits. We must wake them up to reality. Find a local hub.

350 Seattle
People are the heart of 350 Seattle. We’ve come into this fight because of our passion for climate justice, and we work around the clock to influence the political, business, and social realities of our era in the hope of preserving a livable world. We believe our most important task is building and inspiring the movement, because only a movement can bring about the profound change we need, as quickly as we need it to. We’re running out of time: we need you, too. Get involved.

Please contact Nelda Swiggett with additional suggestions.


To use the power of artistic expression — live music, spoken words, images and poetry — to connect our audiences deeply and emotionally to the scientific realities of climate change, and to inform and inspire them to act now to address it.

We believe climate change transcends politics.  It is an unprecedented existential threat that affects us all. We believe our greatest challenge is to overcome misinformation and for each of us to find the courage to act individually and together. Acknowledging the dire consequences and sheer scale of climate change can be deeply emotional, yet our response must be based on scientific understanding, technological innovation, sound economics, and effective policy. We believe the performing arts have a unique and powerful role to play in facilitating society’s response to climate change.


The standard Alaska Suite live performance is 90 minutes in length without an intermission. There are no technical requirements for the performance venue. An acoustic piano is preferred, but not essential (we can bring an electric keyboard). We bring, set up and run our own sound system, digital projector, and projection screen. We do not need additional technical support. We have performed intimate house concerts in small living rooms for 20 – 25 people up to public performances in large venues seating 150 or more. For details, see Hosting a Successful Alaska Suite Concert.

Ask Nelda about funding options, touring the Alaska Suite, and 60-75 minute programs.