Fostering dialogue and inspiring action

The Concert

Adopted by all countries in September 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) call on us all to eradicate poverty, ensure that all children reach their full potential, support peaceful and healthy communities, and conserve nature. The vast majority of people around the world support these goals, but many do not know about them or have difficulty relating to them.

The artists who bring you Concert for a Sustainable Planet hope to address this gap, by fostering a dialogue and inspiring us to action. This concert will inspire hope, dedication, and commitment among groups of people worldwide to build a better planet together and foster positive change in society. The concert will build active connections between the performers on stage and the audience, and will be recorded for on-demand viewing for those who are unable to attend in person.

We hope you will join us!

The concert is presented by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA).


  • Artistic Program

    Gloria Benedikt, Revital Hachamoff, & Ehud Shapiro

  • Welcome

    Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Director of SDSN


  • Cameo appearance by Yo-Yo Ma

    Our special guest cellist will perform selected works (solos).


  • Symphony No. 3 (Eroica), First Movement

    Ludwig van Beethoven

    Symphony No. 3 represents a major milestone in the history of music and is one of Beethoven’s most celebrated works. It is one of the pieces written in Beethoven’s middle period, which was characterized by greater freedom of expression and creativity.


  • SDG Mix - No Poverty

    Ronen Shapira & Amnon Wolman

    A question choreographed by Gloria Benedikt and Mimmo Miccolis, in relation to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.


  • The Five Continents, Part 1 (Fantasie) (World Premiere)

    Ronen Shapira

    This is the world premiere of Ronen Shapira’s The Five Continents – A Piano and Synthesizer Concerto, written for pianist Revital Hachamoff. The composition explores the theme of international harmony and partnership, asking the question can we really communicate? The piece starts with Morse signals and has loving and melodic episodes as well as destructive and violent moments, using conflict and resolution to demonstrate both the diversity and unity of humanity through music. The piece reflects upon the musical traditions and interactions of the five world regions (the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Oceania). It is written for a string orchestra with a piano soloist who also plays non–tempered electronic keyboards. In addition, the composition calls for ethnic instruments from around the world. The piece is part of a tonal and non-tempered series of pieces that combines scores that move in various tempos. Most of the composition is in one time dimension and written in classical traditional notation, but there is an extensive modern use of Eastern elements (1/4 tones and micro-tones). In two multi-speed episodes, the instruments fight and merge, creating tension and resolution. The piece has melodic, simple expressive parts but these dissolve into parallel microtonal scales and non-tempered scales. The second part of The Five Continents – A Piano and Synthesizer Concerto will also include narration of philosophical and scientific texts edited by Israeli-Iraqi poet Ronny Somek, as well as a “Wild Prayer” composing game (more information at The piece ends with birds singing as a sign of freedom, along with video art by Ziv Yonatan and Lily Rattok. Additional collaborators include distinguished composers Amnon Wolman, William Bolcom, Andre Hajdu, Micha Shitrit and Berry Sakharof; the Ruth Kanner Theater; vocal artist Rachel Joy Weiss; poets Ronny Someck, Karen Alkalay-Gut, and Rachel Quastel; rock artist Haim Rachmani; Dr. David Senesh, Ronel Keren, Tahel Klein, Hadas Arazi, and Assael Helman. The main motive of the The Five Continents – A Piano and Synthesizer Concerto was written to the American artist Jennifer Waleczek. The wide use of collaboration in this piece relates to the words of the Israeli philosopher Yehuda Atai, “We are together, therefore I am.”



  • Cameo appearance by Yo-Yo Ma

    Our special guest cellist will perform selected works (solos).


  • An SDGs Salad (World Premiere)

    Ronen Shapira

    Shapira’s musical narration of the SDGs serves as a light-hearted appetizer to the second half of the concert.


  • The Five Continents, Part 2 (World Premiere)

    Ronen Shapira

    The second part of The Five Continents concerto will also include narration of philosophical and scientific texts edited by Israeli-Iraqi poet Roni Somek.


  • Can artists support transformations to sustainability?

    Professor Dr. Pavel Kabat, Director General and CEO, IIASA

    Both science and art have a transformative power, as they are able to depict the world as it is and to imagine it as it could be. Yet, while scientists have significantly shaped the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through providing conceptual work and evidence, artists’ input in shaping the SDG discourse has been limited. Concert for a Sustainable Planet embodies an effort to strive for a new balance. Could artists support the implementation process of the SDG agenda and thus transformations to sustainability? And if so, how?

    The science and arts activities at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) explore how, through a true collaboration between these two spaces, innovative answers can be found for a sustainable transformation of our societies. Through the interaction of science and arts, we seek to explore new solutions to the challenges facing humankind.

    Customarily, a comparatively small segment of society enjoys traditional Western “high art.” High art has become a comfortable and pleasant pastime that provides opportunities to reflect on life, evoking familiar emotions and engaging and inspiring audiences in playful intellectual exercises. It has its value, and occupies a stable place in society. But what about the scary and the unknown? Today, a growing number of artists are challenging art forms and moving away from traditional spaces and audiences to better engage with complex global challenges. As engaged citizens, they are eager to take on the burning question of our time: How might we, as a global community, make a transformation to a sustainable lifestyle? This has led to what we have come to define as constructive art.

    Constructive art doesn’t just illustrate a topic, reflect on a problem or, in the case of activist art, advocate for a particular point of view. It poses original questions that open up avenues for inquiry and aims to change perceptions, breaking negative patterns of behavior and promoting new ways of relating to humans and nonhumans. Two performances in tonight’s program will showcase how interaction between scientists and artists can foster systemic thinking and, more importantly, systemic action. Four Drifting Seasons provides an intimate and affective experience of abstract climate change data through music. This conveys the urgency of global warming without resorting to simplification or ‘crying wolf.’ Contextual Matters translates the complexity of SDG implementation into physical movement with the goal to visualize the human effort required for the SDG agenda to succeed. Meanwhile, a third piece, Musical Postcard, demonstrates how public engagement can be facilitated through this collaboration.

    Constructive art engages with real-life problems through the artistic process. It breaks the old dichotomy between autonomous and applied art to make room for a novel approach where artists create autonomous spaces within the context of current global challenges. Constructive art tends to be disruptive and unconventional, but it is always strongly connected to contemporary society and concerned with making a positive change.

    While the methodologies used in constructive art vary, we can identify two main approaches: First, art that engages with science to contribute to the discourse on global challenges and envision practical solutions. Second, art that engages with communities, experts, or other professionals to derive new insights about societal issues.

    Within these two approaches there are five hallmarks that define constructive art: social relevance, investigation, process, constructive output, and media engagement.

    There is strong evidence that out of the brain’s two processing systems — the experiential processing system, which controls survival behavior and is the source of emotions and instincts, and the analytical processing system, which controls analysis of scientific information — it is the experiential processing system that is the stronger motivator for action.

    To successfully address complex global challenges, we also need to align our beliefs and values with the reality of our changing world. This deep, often challenging, internal work must be supported through individual and collective processes that embrace subjectivity, while being accountable to scientific facts. Constructive art is uniquely positioned to do that and thus to support sustainability transformations.

    To learn more, visit


  • Four Drifting Seasons

    Merlijn Twaalfhoven

    Together with Jan Driessen and Killian Elbers, activist composer Merlijn Twaalfhoven translated climate change data from the Northern hemisphere into music. The composition is true to the data, and the vocals are a direct reflection of the changes in our climate since the beginning of measurement in 1880 until spring 2017. A well-known graph is thus transposed from a visual to an auditory experience, ending intensely with one highly pitched tone. In this way, we can relate freshly to the story the data is telling us, surpassing the overly politicized and polarized tone which surrounds this topic.

    In Four Drifting Seasons, each vocal group represents a season, with low voices singing the winter, middle voices the spring and autumn, and soprano voices the summer. The occurrence of extreme weather events like floods and storms are expressed through articulation, dynamics, and percussive sounds.

    Since the music is neither melodic nor conventional, it is difficult to perform. To ensure accuracy the team developed an app to support singers in finding the exact pitch during the performance. Instructions, examples and a manual can be found on the website



  • Maya Belsitzman

    Maya Belsitzman


    Maya was born in Tel Aviv on May 26, 1986, and started playing the cello when she was 7 at the Tel Aviv conservatory of music, studying with the great Israeli teachers Hillel Zori, Zvi Plesser, and Shmuel Magen. At the same time she studied at the Tel Aviv School of Arts and later at the “Thelma Yellin” high school for the arts.

    Maya won music scholarships from the America-Israel foundation from 2001 to 2005, both in cello and in chamber music. In 2004 Maya joined the army and was part of the army string quartet in the “outstanding musicians” unit. When Maya finished her army service, she started working in the Israeli popular music industry. She played with many leading Israeli artists such as Ehud Banai, Miri Mesika, Ninet Tayeb, Danny Sanderson, David Broza, Keren Ann, Nurit Galron, Yoni Bloch, Izhar Ashdot, Efrat Gosh, and Rita. Maya is a session player, soloist, and string quartet player, and also arranges music for recording sessions and shows.

    In October 2010, Maya started to sing professionally and created a duo with the musician-drummer Matan Ephrat. Their debut album was released in January 2015 and they have been performing in jazz music festivals around the world. Their program contains original songs in Hebrew and English, original instrumental pieces, and international covers. They are working on their 2nd album that should be released in the end of 2017.

  • Gloria Benedikt

    Gloria Benedikt


    Gloria Benedikt was born in Austria and trained at the Vienna State Opera Ballet School and English National Ballet School (London). Since 2002 she has worked as a dancer and choreographer across Europe and the USA. A graduate of Harvard University (2013), she is particularly interested in connecting the arts and science, defining her dance pieces as choreographed papers and creating artistically innovative, impact-driven arts projects that link the humanities and sciences to solve global challenges. She is the first Research Associate for Science and Arts at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA). Recent performance engagements include the Kennedy Center, Washington DC; the House of the European Union, Vienna; the European Culture Forum, Brussels; the European Forum, Alpbach; the Bridging Europe Festival, Budapest; the European Commission’s Joint Research Center, Ispra; the Forum on European Culture, Amsterdam; and the Stockholm Act.

  • Revital Hachamoff

    Revital Hachamoff


    Acclaimed Israeli pianist Revital Hachamoff has performed as a soloist and chamber music player across Europe, Asia, and the Americas. She has played as a soloist with all of the leading orchestras in Israel and with the Moscow Chamber Orchestra (Tchaikovsky Hall), Berliner Symphoniker (Konzerthaus Berlin), Salzburg Chamber Soloists, The Solti Chamber Orchestra of Budapest, The Bucharest Philharmonic, Transylvania State Philharmonic Orchestra, Neuss Chamber Orchestra, Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, The NDR Symphony Orchestra, national orchestras in South America, and more.

    Revital has played under the baton of Zubin Mehta, Sergio Comissiona, Maxim Shostakovich, David Stern, Dan Ettinger, Omer Welber, Lior Shambadal, Zsolt Nagy, and many others. She has cooperated with leading Israeli composers who have dedicated eight piano concerti to her.

    Revital appeared as a soloist at many international festivals. She has recorded extensively and had her own television program. Her recording of Elgar’s violin sonata with Maxim Vengerov received editor’s choice of Gramophone magazine. Revital is a faculty member at the piano department of the Jerusalem Academy for Music and Dance.

  • Gilad Hildesheim

    Gilad Hildesheim


    Israeli-born violinist Gilad Hildesheim started playing at the age of 6 in Belgium. In Israel Gilad studied with Haim Taub, Gad Kogan, Yair Kless, and Ilona Faher. Gilad has won grants from the American-Israel Foundation and has been the leader of many orchestras and musical groups in Israel and abroad, including The Haifa Symphony Orchestra, the Tel Aviv Soloists Ensemble, the Kaprizma Ensemble, and the San Carlo Opera in Naples, Italy. For the last eight years Gilad has led the NKO Chamber Orchestra and played with them as a soloist on tours in Israel, Croatia, Italy, France, Germany, and China. A passionate chamber player, Gilad has collaborated with Pinchas Zuckerman, Guy Braunstein, the Jerusalem Quartet, the Jerusalem Trio, Bernard Greenhaus, and pianist Revital Hachamoff, with whom he has toured the U.S.A and Bulgaria, and performed numerous live radio broadcast concerts.

  • Tali Kravitz

    Tali Kravitz


    Israeli-born violinist and violist Tali Kravitz has enjoyed a steadily growing reputation both as a sought-after performer and a respected pedagogue. Having received a MM from the Pinchas Zukerman Performance Program at the Manhattan School of Music, where she studied under the guidance of Pinchas Zukerman and Patinka Kopec, Tali appeared at numerous esteemed venues, often collaborating with today’s leading artists. She has been on the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music Precollege Division, the Summit Music Festival in New York, and the National Arts Center Orchestra Young Artists Program Precollege in Canada. She currently serves on the faculty of the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance as well as the Jerusalem Conservatory Hassadna and the Lin and Ted Arison Israel Conservatory of Music, Tel Aviv. Tali is the recipient of a number of prizes and awards among which are the First Prize at the 5 Town Music and Art Foundation String Competition, First Prize at the String Orchestra of the Rockies Concerto Competition, First Place at the Joyce Dutka Arts Foundation Instrumental Competition, and winner of the Virtu Foundation Scholarship Competition. Tali plays on a Jacobus Stainer viola, kindly loaned to her by Mr. Yehuda Zisapel. Tali also earned a MS in Neuroscience and Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, in 2013.

  • Mimmo Miccolis

    Mimmo Miccolis


    Mimmo Miccolis is an Italian-born dancer and choreographer who has worked across Europe and the USA for the past decade. He is particularly interested in creating work around social issues. In spring 2015 he won the Outstanding Choreographer Award at the Youth American Grand Prix, New York, and in 2011 the BBC Performing Arts Award for his choreography of RIGHTS(?). Miccolis obtained his dance education at Fondazione Niccolò Piccinni and Balletto di Toscana. He currently serves as faculty teacher and choreographer at the Washington Ballet, and at George Mason University.

  • Alexander Osipenko

    Alexander Osipenko


    Alexander Osipenko studied at the State Rachmaninov Conservatoire in Russia, the Prins Claus Conservatorium Groningen in The Netherlands, and the Liszt School of Music Weimar in Germany. He has played with the Nationaal Symfonisch Kamerorkest, the Camerata Ardesco Chamber Orchestra, the Bremer Philharmoniker, the Nederlands Philharmonisch Orkest, and the Israel Camerata Jerusalem.

  • Ehud Shapiro

    Ehud Shapiro


    Ehud Shapiro is a multi-disciplinary scientist, artist, and entrepreneur. A Professor of Computer Science and Biology at the Weizmann Institute of Science with an international reputation, he made fundamental contributions to many scientific disciplines including machine learning, inductive inference, algorithmic debugging, logic programming, concurrent programming, molecular computers, molecular programming, synthetic biology, and single-cell genomics. Ehud was also an Internet pioneer and a successful Internet entrepreneur, founding Ubique Ltd., perhaps the first Internet social networking software company. Ehud is a recipient of the World Technology Award for Biotechnology and a member of “Scientific American 50” as a Research Leader in Nanotechnology. Ehud is a Bass singer and the founder of the Ba Rock Band, for which he conceived the original artistic program.

  • Merlijn Twaalfhoven

    Merlijn Twaalfhoven


    Merlijn Twaalfhoven is a Dutch composer who works in conflict areas, unconventional locations, and concert halls. He received a UNESCO award and collaborates with the Kronos Quartet and the New York Philharmonic. His projects explore the richness of cultural diversity and human interaction, often engaging musicians of contrasting styles, local traditions, or children in large events. He collaborates with artists, scientists, diplomats, and other idealists in new and creative ways. This results in a unique blend of sophisticated music and rough, unpolished sounds. Striving for a world without boundaries between art and society, his goal is to revive the creative and artistic potential in everyone in order to create meaningful connections and understanding between people. Advocating a larger role for artists in society, he has presented practical and direct ways for artists to become engaged in pressing global issues such as growing inequality, climate change, and disruptive technological change at conferences such as the European Cultural Forum, Aspen Ideas Festival, TEDx Amsterdam, and at universities across Europe, the USA (Georgetown, Fordham, Columbia), and Japan (GeiDai).

  • Cesare Zanfini

    Cesare Zanfini


    Cesare Zanfini was born into a family of musicians in Milan, Italy. He studied with Fulvio Luciani and Roberto Tarenzi at the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory in Milan and with Bruno Canino at the Fiesole Music School Trio repertory. He is the recipient of many awards, including the Paolo Borciani Scholarship from the Milano Conservatory in string quartet, the Rovere d’Oro – Young Artists competition in piano trio, and the Antonio Beltrami Scholarship from the Milano Conservatory. He has performed with the Schumann Quintet, the Società dei Concerti in Milan, the Parco della Musica in Rome, the Dal Verme Theater in Milan, MiTo Fringe, and Milano Musica. He participated in masterclasses with Francesco Manara, Maureen Jones, Dario De Rosa, Malcolm Bilson, Olivier Charlier, Natalia Gutman, Dora Schwarzberg, and Eva Bindere. Since 2012 he has been part of the Orchestra of the Academy of Teatro alla Scala, with which he performed in several concerts in the best theaters in Italy, including Teatro alla Scala in Milan, and in other countries also as a concertmaster. Since 2013 he has been part of the Ensemble of the Academy of Teatro alla Scala specializing in the 20th century repertoire.

  • Every Voice Choirs


    Every Voice Choirs (EVC) was created at Columbia University Teachers College by Music Education faculty Dr. Nicole Becker and Dr. Jeanne Goffi-Fynn in 2012. Since then it has expanded to comprise three choirs for singers ages 7-16 at Teachers College and a satellite program at Hunter College Campus Schools. The mission of EVC is to help young people discover their voices and share them with pride. Under Dr. Becker’s leadership, EVC’s choirs have performed at Carnegie Hall, Merkin Hall, Madison Square Garden, Manhattan School of Music, and Columbia University. The Concert Choir, EVC’s only auditioned ensemble, collaborates with artists throughout New York, most recently performing the world premiere of Zaid Jabri’s “A Garden Among the Flames” with the Cecilia Chorus of New York and Orchestra at Carnegie Hall in May, 2017. For more information, visit


Tickets are available at the Carnegie Hall website. The site also includes a seating chart. Please direct any questions relating to ticketing directly to Carnegie Hall.


Concert for a Sustainable Planet
7:30 pm, September 18, 2017
Zankel Hall, Carnegie Hall, New York, USA
Entrance on Seventh Avenue between 56th and 57th Streets (Map)


This concert is presented by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), in partnership with SDSN Youth’s Arts TwentyThirty initiative.

Organizers are grateful for generuos support from the Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations, the Consulate General of Israel in New York, The Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and Mifal Hapais.