Monday 20 June 2016

Gravitational waves inspire new piece for NYOGB

Swinburne Astronomy Productions
Illustration of gravitational waves from two black holes
Swinburne Astronomy Productions
The ground-breaking detection of gravitational waves earlier this year (see the article in The Guardian) has inspired a new piece by composer Iris ter Schiphorst which is being premiered by the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain (NYOGB) on the UK tour this August, when the orchestra will be conducted by Edward Gardner.

The 164 musicians, aged 13 to 19, will be performing at Snape Maltings (4 August), Symphony Hall, Birmingham (5 August) and at the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall (6 August). The programme will also include two other works which have links to space and the solar system, Holst's The Planets (though in fact Holst's interest was astrological rather than astronomical) and Richard Strauss' Also Sprach Zarathustra (which is still best known for its use in that Stanley Kubrick film).

Gravitational waves are ripples in the curvature of spacetime caused by violent or energetic processes in the Universe, such as massive accelerating objects such as neutron stars or black holes. Gravitational waves were predicted by Albert Einstein in 1916 from his theory of general relativity.

The German composer Iris ter Schiphorst (born 1956) is a Professor of Composition at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna. Her music is influenced by years of experience as a classical pianist, a bass player, percussionist, keyboard player and sound engineer in various rock and pop bands. In her new piece she integrates the 'chirp' sound of the waves and explores the concept of listening to the universe; in fact, she once wanted to study physics. She incorporates theatrical performance elements into the piece which allows the musicians to interact with sounds and ideas that reflect the scientific detection.

Full information from the National Youth Orchestra's website.

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