Thanks to David Bruggeman and his Nov. 30, 2013 posting on the Pasco Phronesis blog for some fascinating information about the Hubble space telescope and its upcoming 30th anniversary in 2015 (Note: Links have been removed),
Bay Chamber Concerts commissioned a piece in advance of the 30th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope (H/T The Atlantic). Called Hubble Cantata, it is currently in two forms – a 22 minute version which can be heard online at the composer’s website (and is available for download), and a multimedia version that has been performed in public by soprano Jessica Rivera and the International Contemporary Ensemble. The goal is to develop a full cantata for two voices and instruments, which would include the same kinds of multimedia interludes focused on the Hubble Telescope and what it’s been able to see.
David has embedded a video (approximately 20 mins. running time) of the July 2013 premiere of the Hubble Cantata, a work, that is still in progress.
I have dug up a bit of information about Bay Chamber Concerts which is located in the US state of Maine and is both a school and a concert production company as per the About Us webpage on their website,
Bay Chamber has a rich history of presenting the best in performing arts in Midcoast Maine.
ALL YEAR, ALL-AROUND OUTSTANDING.
Founded in 1961 by brothers Andrew and Thomas Wolf, Bay Chamber Concerts features world-renowned artists year-round. Our Summer Concert Series and Music Festival in July and August feature over 30 events that redefine the standards for chamber music. From September to June the Performing Arts Series features classical, jazz, world music and dance events in a variety of venues throughout the region.
EXCELLENCE IN EDUCATION.
The Bay Chamber Music School, located in the village of Rockport, offers private instruction, ensemble opportunities, group classes and other music education programming to local musicians and community members of all ages and abilities.
As part of our Community Engagement program, Bay Chamber presents concerts in alternative settings to audiences who might otherwise not have the ability to attend live performances. Concerts and workshops featuring Bay Chamber Concerts professional roster of musicians are presented at no charge in prisons, hospitals, assisted living facilities and more.
The composer for this cantata is Paola Prestini and here’s more about the project and her collaborators from her (eponymous) website’s Projects page,
in collaboration with artists
filmmaker CARMEN KORDAS & librettist ROYCE VAVREK
with soprano Jessica Rivera &
International Contemporary Ensemble
violinist and improviser, Cornelius Dufallo
texts inspired by astrophysicist Mario Livio
a Bay Chamber Concerts Commission
The Hubble is a contemporary multimedia cantata for the mezzo soprano Jessica Rivera, and the renowned International Contemporary Ensemble. Commissioned by Bay Chamber Concerts, the cantata is inspired by Hubble Telescope images. The work is a collaboration with librettist Royce Vavrek, filmmaker Carmen Kordas, and the famed astrophysicist, Mario Livio, of the Space Telescope Science Institute. The work is leading towards a full length cantata for soprano and baritone, for the Hubble’s 25th anniversary in 2015. This work is supported by the Space Telescope Science Institute.
The work exists in two versions, as a 22 minute work, and an evening length cantata that features music, electronics, filmed sequences with rare seen photographs and footage from the Hubble telescope, interlaced with sung poetic movements.
Prestini provides this compelling description of the work written Mario Livio on the website homepage,
By incorporating Mario Livio’s strong and poignant themes with music, visual art/film, and advanced technology, the Hubble Cantata promises to be one of the most exciting forays into the interdisciplinary dance of science and art, to date.
“We decided to symbolically anchor the Earth-based part of the lyrics on the agonizing experiences of a young woman struggling with a harsh reality. As Vavrek states in the introduction to the libretto: “Her footsteps tell stories.” The music and imagery for this section were partly inspired by the Japanese mythology-rich forest Aokigahara. Sadly, the historic association of this forest with demons has led to numerous suicides on the site. To connect the life (and death) experience of the young woman to the heavens, we used the ancient Peruvian geoglyphs known as the Nazca Lines. Again in Vavrek’s words: “The woman walks in patterns, pictures emerge in the soil… She creates her own private Nazca lines, tattooing the Earth with her history.” The Nazca lines in Peru are believed to have been created between the fifth and seventh centuries, and they are thought (at least by some researchers) to point to places on the horizon where certain celestial bodies rose or set. In other words, they truly marked a direct astronomical connection between the surface of the Earth and the heavens. In its conclusion, the Cantata completely intermingles the fate of the young woman with the ultimate fate of the stars. The shapes in the sand and the constellations in the sky become one, mirroring the tortuous path of human life in the dramatic Hubble images of outbursts that simultaneously mark stellar deaths and the promise for a new generation of stars, planets, and life.”
While this is somewhat off topic; it is related. Today (Dec. 2, 2013), Google is commemorating the 90th anniversary of opera singer. Maria Callas’ birth with a doodle as per this Dec. 2, 2013 news item on the Guardian website (Note: Links have been removed),
The birth of singer Maria Callas 90 years ago has been celebrated in a new Google doodle.
The animation shows the legendary soprano performing on stage. Callas, who died in 1977, was a colourful figure who was renowned as a prima donna.
Last month, the actor Faye Dunaway said she was determined to finish a film – which she is also directing and producing – telling Callas’s life story. The Independent quoted Dunaway as saying: “That woman changed an art form and not many people can say that. Callas is to opera what Fellini is to cinema.”
Getting back to music and outer space, I was reminded of an episode in the classic Star Trek series that featured Nichelle Nichols as Uhura, the communications officer, singing a song about space,loneliness, and love,
For anyone as ignorant as I am about the difference between a cantata and an opera, here’s a definition for a cantata from Wikipedia (Note: Links have been removed),
A cantata (literally “sung”, derived from the Italian word “cantare”) is a vocal composition with an instrumental accompaniment, typically in several movements, often involving a choir.
The meaning of the term changed over time, from the simple single voice madrigal of the early 17th century, to the multi-voice “cantata da camera” and the “cantata da chiesa” of the later part of that century, from the more substantial dramatic forms of the 18th century (including the 200-odd sacred and secular cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach) to the usually sacred-texted 19th-century cantata, which was effectively a type of short oratorio. Several cantatas were written for special occasions, such as Christmas cantatas.
I wish the principals good luck with their Hubble Cantata project and look forward to hearing more about it as the Hubble’s 30th anniversary in 2015 rears.