narrated by astrophysicist MARIO LIVIO
THE CHOIR OF TRINITY WALL STREET & NOVUS NY
HUBBLE CANTATA was commissioned by BAY CHAMBER CONCERTS and
received support from the SPACE TELESCOPE SCIENCE INSTITUTE
VisionIntoArt & National Sawdust, Producers
Beth Morrison Projects, Associate Producer
The Hubble Cantata is a contemporary multimedia cantata written as a collaboration between soprano Jessica Rivera, baritone Nathan Gunn, violinist Cornelius Dufallo and composer Paola Prestini. Commissioned by Bay Chamber Concerts, the cantata is inspired by images from the Hubble Telescope. The work is a collaboration between librettist Royce Vavrek, filmmaker Carmen Kordas, and the famed astrophysicist, Mario Livio, of the Space Telescope Science Institute, culminating in a a full-length cantata for soprano and baritone to celebrate the Hubble Telescope’s 25th anniversary in 2015. This work is supported in part by the Space Telescope Science Institute.
The Hubble Cantata exists in two versions, as a 22 minute work, and an evening length cantata that features music, electronics, filmed sequences with rarely seen photographs and footage from the Hubble telescope, interlaced with sung poetic movements.
This poetic re-imagining is inspired and guided by Mario Livio’s uniquely sensitive and intellectual writings.
“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.”
“THE MUSIC OF THE HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE”
“A WORK OF EXTRAORDINARY BEAUTY”
Photos by Jill Steinberg