An orchestrated effort

For a global agricultural corporation, keeping in harmony with nature requires working in harmony with partners and colleagues. 

The Syngenta Group, with 49,000 employees in more than 100 countries, recently demonstrated global harmony in a literal way. 120 Syngenta Group colleagues from 30 countries put their musical talents to work, virtually, to perform a symphonic rendition of the Group’s four-seasons soundtrack. 

Some sang, while many others played instruments — ranging from Western strings, keyboards, brass and woodwinds to culturally specific instruments like the Chinese erhu, the Japanese koto and the Indian sitar. 

This 5-minute premiere performance of the Syngenta Group Global Orchestra is now available as a video for public viewing. 

“Combining traditional and modern instruments from around the globe, as well as sounds from nature itself, the soundtrack mirrors Syngenta Group’s innovative and collaborative approach to global agriculture,” said Laure Roberts, Chief Human Resources Officer for Syngenta Group, who conceived the project. “For us, it highlighted the need to connect, get creative and come together through a common passion—in this case, music—particularly given the isolation caused by the pandemic.”

The video performance is based on a musical composition, created for Syngenta Group earlier this year, that relays the story of the seasons in a four-piece suite, reflecting the rhythm of nature, as inspired by agriculture. 

The suite, along with a four-note signature theme it is based on, won a prestigious international Red Dot award in the “2021 Brands & Communication Design” competition.

The musical branding was created with the support of Berlin-based agency why do birds, Globeone and Pacific Entertainment Media, to help tell the firm’s story of growth, nature, and the aspirations for a better, healthier planet.  

A Call for Volunteers

Given the global reach of Syngenta Group, there were considerable logistical challenges in assembling the volunteer orchestra and recording their performances in a way that video editors could synchronize. The initial “Musicians Wanted” post went out on Yammer, the company’s internal social networking platform. After some 500 employees expressed interest, the communications team asked candidates to submit videos of themselves performing. 

“There were many different options for the musicians to play, depending on the level of musical talent,” Roberts said. In fact, each person who took the time to submit a video became a member of the orchestra. “For us, the project was less about perfecting one’s individual talent, and more about coming together as a community through a common passion.”

Pei Lim, a Syngenta research scientist in the UK, was a beginner on the handpan—a type of tuned steel drum—when she volunteered. “I almost didn’t want to join,’’ she said, “because I just started learning the handpan, and didn’t know if I would play the right notes. But I am so glad I pushed myself a bit and took this challenge! It’s been a humbling experience to see the pool of talent out there.” 

Collins Tuikong, a Syngenta technical senior supervisor in Kenya, was one of the orchestra’s vocalists. “This was a well thought-through move,’’ he said of the global project. “Music is the unifier and, above all, is therapeutic!” 

Roberson Marczak is an innovation manager in Brazil for ADAMA, an Israeli-based generic crop protection products company and one of the Group’s business units. He played violin in the orchestra. “It makes me feel integrated with Syngenta Group,” he said. 

Are there future plans for the orchestra?  

“We want to keep our Global Orchestra musician community alive through 2022 and beyond,’’ Roberts said. “We are currently working on a campaign to tell different stories around the instruments, the countries and the people who make up the orchestra, to spotlight the cultural diversity of our Group.”