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Multimedia performance celebrates Einstein and solar eclipse

Music and astronomy collide in May 15 public event

A black hole in outer space
An illustration of a supermassive black hole. Image via NASA/JPL-Caltech

 “A Shout Across Time,” a Northwestern University multimedia performance celebrating Albert Einstein’s revolutionary theories and this summer’s solar eclipse, will be held at 8 p.m. Monday, May 15, at Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston.

The free public outreach event will feature astronomy, narration and live classical music by students from Northwestern’s Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music. Nichols Concert Hall at the Music Institute of Chicago is located at 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston.

Kyle Kremer, a doctoral student at Northwestern’s Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics (CIERA), organized the performance. This latest endeavor is part of his Cosmos in Concert initiative, a new platform for science education and outreach through multimedia shows. 

“The basic idea is you have a group of musicians on stage, and while they’re performing, we have visualizations projected on a screen on that stage, so it’s like a live soundtrack being played while you’re watching a movie,” said Kremer, who received his undergraduate degree from Northwestern in trumpet performance and astrophysics. 

This year’s performance includes two parts.

One of our jobs as scientists is to bring things to the public in a way they’ll enjoy.

Kyle Kremer
CIERA doctoral student

“A Shout Across Time” is inspired by Einstein's theories on general relativity, black holes and gravitational waves, which is particularly significant to the Northwestern community since many CIERA astrophysicists were involved in the historic discovery of gravitational waves. With music composed by Ira Mowitz, this first piece was originally part of the "Celebrating Einstein" project at Montana State University.

Kremer developed the second piece, “Eclipse,” which is a new multimedia performance for brass quintet that highlights the Aug. 21 solar eclipse.

“One of our jobs as scientists is to bring things to the public in a way they’ll enjoy,” Kremer said. “We ask, ‘How can I use music as a tool to make the science more accessible?’ It’s enjoyable, and you’re learning while you’re having a more entertaining experience than a traditional lecture.”

"A Shout Across Time" is funded by CIERA postdoctoral fellow Laura Sampson, who won a prestigious 2016 "For Women in Science" Fellowship from L'Oréal USA. Sampson received the fellowship in part to develop astronomy outreach programs. As part of the performance, she will give a short pre-concert lecture on the discovery of gravitational waves.

An outdoor telescope viewing will follow the show, weather permitting. 

More information is available from Northwestern University Arts Circle.

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