Creating a space where music and science can exist in perfect harmony, the Society for New Music is premiering “Larger Than Us” and performing “The Astronaut’s Tale” on Sunday, Jan 20 from 4.30 pm -6pm at the MOST, Armory Square, Downtown Syracuse.

The MOST is partnering with SNM. This Dec. 21, 2018 marked the 50th anniversary of America’s Apollo 8 mission to the lunar orbit which served as a precursor to the mission that gave the world the first man on the moon. In celebration of this historic event, this space-centered musical program (especially designed for students) features compositions aimed at
fostering an awareness of the marvels of space exploration and inspiring young minds to feel more connected to the cosmos in which we exist.

SUNY-Oswego Paul Leary’s “Larger Than Us”, for chamber ensemble with electronics and video, is paired with “The Astronaut’s Tale,” by American composer Charles Fussell, a staged chamber opera with visuals, a 21st century update to Igor Stravinsky’s 20th century classic, “The Soldier’s Tale”. Leary writes, “I hope ‘Larger Than Us’ inspires young people to appreciate the incredible things scientists and engineers have achieved in the past 60 years of space exploration, and hopefully inspire them to take up such a profession.” He also hopes it will further create a sense of humility in the face of our minutiae in the universe.

“The Astronaut’s Tale” – completed in 1996 by Fussell – is arias, duets, and trios connected by a narrator, in this case the renowned Syracuse author Bruce Coville. Jack Larson’s libretto traces a young man’s life (Abel – sung by Daniel Fields) growing up on the farm as he struggles with math in school yet dreams of the cosmos and flying into space.

The finale is a meditation on the nature of the cosmos and our experience of life and death within. Nancy Rhodes, Artistic Director of the Brooklyn-based Encompass New Opera Theater who produced this opera in New York City opines, “The Astronaut’s Tale” explores the nature of time – dream-time, clock-time, eternal-time; it explores transitions in life, the movement and
flow of discovery from the unseen to manifestation, and ultimately guides us into a vision of multiple dimensions of inner time, the space where we dream.”

Students can ‘look to the stars’ at this specially curated “spaced-out” musical event inclusive of some interactive events at the MOST on Jan. 19, from a dress rehearsal and panel discussion, to a playtime with Paul Leary’s computerized tricycle wheels and large pendulum near the Hubble
exhibit, which closes after this weekend.

Neva Pilgrim, producer of this event and a founding member of the Society for New Music – the contemporary classical music organization in Syracuse – is excited to present a program like this one. She says, “Both science and new music require a sense of adventure along with precise skills and imagination in the creation or discovery of the new.” Perhaps we can say this is a contemporary example of what some ancient writers called the “harmony of the spheres.”

So go ahead, save the date for a musical adventure into space.

This press release was published on Society for New Music website, Jan 2019.

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