Musical performance mixes science and sound

By Kelli Breland, A&E Writer

Prepare for an experience like none other and perhaps a sensory overload.      Because on May 11, the University Wind Ensemble and University Singers will be performing “Cosmosis,” an exhilarating musical performance based on the science-themed poetry of May Swenson.

The piece was selected as part of the School of Arts and Communication “empowerment” focus series.

“Cosmosis,” tells the story of a science experiment.

“Somebody questioned whether a spider could spin a web in space,” Brian Galante, associate director of choral studies, said. Galante is co-directing “Cosmosis” with Edwin Powell, director of bands.

Swenson’s poetry provides the foundation of the piece as it depicts the struggles of a spider trying to construct a web without the assistance of gravity.

Digging deeper behind Swenson’s lines and poems, an accessible theme is clear.

“It’s about taking those risks of discovery even though it might fail. We are stronger for trying, even if it was a failure,” Galante said.

Swenson’s creative poetry evolved into the music of “Cosmosis” under composer Susan Botti.

“What’s really cool is the composer is actually going to sing the soprano solo,” junior Maura Winter, a university singer, said.

Botti will be rehearsing with the University Wind Ensemble and University Singers next week, and she will sing her part during the performance on May 11.

While audience members can expect a concert, they certainly should not count on typical vocal and instrumental sounds alone.

“It’s not bizarre, but it’s not mainstream. Not mainstream at all,” Winter said.

Winter and Galante said that along with normally written notes, the music also includes chanting, radio sounds, insane laughter, rapping and even white noise. Parts of the performance will also feature improvisation.

“The sounds are meant to be evocative of space, of different areas of science and exploration and discovery,” Galante said.

Winter said the idea of space will also be conveyed by images projected on the walls of Lagerquist Concert Hall during the concert.

As part of the combination of science and music exemplified in the performance of “Cosmosis,” audience members will have the opportunity to join in on a science lab in the Mary Baker Russell Music Center’s amphitheater after listening to the concert.

The multi-discipline performance “is truly one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences,” junior Taylor Ruyffeleare, a university singer, said. “It’s so different from anything you’d normally hear.”

“Cosmosis” will be performed on May 11 at 8 p.m. in Lagerquist. Tickets are $8 for general admission, $5 for senior citizens, $3 for alumni and are free for ages 18 or younger. They are now available at the Pacific Lutheran University Concierge Desk.

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