James Bennett II is a staff writer for WQXR.
Carl Sagan Set to Choral Music is the Coolest Video You'll See Today
Wednesday, March 01, 2017 - 12:44 PM
Music and science have long enjoyed a close relationship. Scientists like the astronomer William Herschel and physicist Albert Einstein were no strangers to the oboe and violin, respectively; and Neil deGrasse Tyson has deeply explored the science behind what we hear. And then there are the many compositions that science has inspired in some way — from Haydn’s comic opera Il Mondo della Luna to Paola Prestini’s virtual reality-infused Hubble Cantata. So when a project like Gordon Hamilton’s Who We Are comes along, it fits perfectly into this interplay.
Who We Are is a choral setting of a quote from astronomer Carl Sagan’s 1980 book Cosmos:
“We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a hum-drum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people.”
As it turns out, it also has one of the coolest music videos we’ve seen in awhile. It’s performed by the vocal ensemble Australian Voices, under the direction of the composer himself. In the video, a set of hands writes out the score in time with the music. Marvel at the sublime music and calming atmosphere it produces. Meditate on Sagan’s words. Or be inspired to get really into video production. We’ll be watching it all day, and you just might be, too.