The meld of music and science is set to propel the audience to space at the First Metropolitan United Church later this month.
The evening blasts off with organist Jenny Vincent performing music such as 2001, A Space Odyssey, alongside visuals of a rocket-launch and a running commentary by CBC’s Quirks and Quarks radio host and science journalist Bob McDonald.
“The slideshow we have with it is really interesting because it’s about the expanding universe,” Vincent said. “It’s interesting, with a nice variety of music interspersed with Bob talking. He just ties it right into what I’m playing.”
McDonald aims for “awe inspiring” then segues to Vincent’s inspired organ pieces correlated to his talking notes. For example he’ll talk of Jupiter, the largest of the planets, so big 1,000 Earths could fit, but the whole thing is made of gas.
“It’s violent and has storms the size of Earth… lightening bolts the size of Asia,” McDonald said, already enthused about sharing the knowledge. “It’s a raging plant that is almost a star.”
Then Vincent, artistic director for organWORX, pipes in with a Gustav Holst piece titled for the planet.
“It captures the essence of Jupiter,” McDonald said.
The pair moves through planets with his unscripted words.
“It’s just my own awe. Being a science journalist for as long I have and witnessing the exploration of space as long as I have I get gobsmacked by it. So I just try to give my impression of it. I feel like I’ve been to Jupiter and been to Mars,” he said.
Vincent initiated the idea with McDonald in a bid to reinvigorate organ music among the masses. Along the way, she’s learned a bit about the music as well.
“I’m always looking for new ideas. I’m not the organist who sticks to certain music,” she said. This project spurred her to discover new composers such as Bruce Lazarus whose Orion Nebula or Richard Felciano and his God of the Expanding Universe. Both appear in the program.
The Victoria show is a tweaked performance after a successful show in Parksville recently.
“People said it was almost a spiritual experience because they felt they were taken out into the cosmos,” McDonald said. “We found the first time everything was really big and heavy, because the universe is big and heavy. We changed a bit to shorten some pieces and lighten up the mood.”
It also achieved Vincent’s goal shifting organ music back into the mainstream.
“This way it’s an easy way to bring it across to (an audience). It was interesting after the concert, I thought they’d be talking all about Bob and so many were talking about how they didn’t know the organ could do all this,” Vincent said.
McDonald loves to share the wonder of science beyond formulas and mathematics.
“Whenever art and science come together it can be beautiful. I’ve always been a big fan of that,” McDonald said.
The pair is already planning next year’s feature concert, exploring the elements earth, water, air and fire.
Vincent and McDonald present Cosmic Odyssey on April 28 at 7 p.m. at First Metropolitan United Church, 932 Balmoral Rd., Victoria.
Tickets are $35 available at Munro’s Books, Ivy’s Bookshop, Tanner’s Books, organworx.ca and the McPherson box office, rats.bc.ca and 250-386-6121.
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