Music and Astronomy Collaborate- Reflecting on Amadeus Under the Stars

     On Friday, Feb. 17, lovers of music and stars gathered for Amadeus Under the Stars, an event coordinated by Eastern University’s music and astronomy departments. The evening was divided into three segments, consisting of a show in the Julia Fowler Planetarium and musical performances. Ticket holders were divided into three groups, and the groups rotated so that each group could experience the planetarium show during one segment and a music concert during the other two segments.

     My evening began with a visit to the planetarium. Eastern’s planetarium is remarkable: my program identified it as “the brightest and highest-resolution planetarium in a 20-foot dome in the world.” I huddled into the planetarium with others who had come to see the show. During the show, Dr. David Bradstreet told of the moon’s role in determining the outcome of an 1857 murder trial. On Aug. 29, William Armstrong was charged with the murder of James Metzker. At Armstrong’s trial, Charles Allen claimed he witnessed the murder by the light of the moon. Abraham Lincoln, a friend of Armstrong’s father, presented an almanac that showed that the moon would have been too low in the sky for Allen to have seen clearly that night. Using this evidence, the jury acquitted Armstrong.

     We did not need to leave the planetarium to solve the murder for ourselves: we used celestial coordinates to figure out the highest and lowest points at which the moon could have been that night. Thanks to Bradstreet and Steven Sanders, we received the opportunity to see these facts for ourselves.

     While I was at the planetarium show, the music program had begun in the McInnis Auditorium. The first segment of the program featured Christine DeVault singing soprano and Jeffrey DeVault playing piano in “Fantoches (Verlaine)” from Fêtes Galantes, Richard Amoroso playing cello and Jeffrey DeVault playing piano in “Cello Sonata (Mvt. I),” Ron Matthews playing trumpet in “Peace for Trumpet (Mvt. I and II)” and Derek Kostovick playing piano in “How High the Moon” and “Blue Moon.”

     Following the planetarium show, I made my way to the auditorium to hear two segments of the music program. Richard Amoroso and Ron Matthews performed “Cello Sonata (Adagio, Allegro, Largo, Allegro)” on cello and piano, respectively. Next, Kyoungwoon Leah Kim (on violin) and Jim Correnti (on piano) performed “Sonata for Violin and Piano (Mvt. IV).” The final performance of the second segment featured selections performed by Jim Correnti, who had originally performed the pieces for an event at which he was asked to play Italian music. He performed “Mattinata” from Zaza, “Vesti la giubba” from Pagliacci and “Nessun dorma” from Turandot on piano.

     After a brief intermission, the third segment of the music program began with Jeremy Harting on guitar and Jim Correnti on piano performing “Largo” from Concerto in D RV. 93. Next, Erikson Rojas performed “La fille aux cheveux de lin” (“The girl with the flaxen hair”) and “La puerta del vino” (“The wine gate”) on piano. Kyoungwoon Leah Kim (on violin) and Jim Correnti (on piano) closed out the evening with a performance of “Souvenir D’Amerique,” in which the audience heard the familiar melody of “Yankee Doodle.” The music portion of the evening was made possible with the help of Stephen Wiseley, Paul Thorpe and Technical Services, Sara Herman and Colleen Bradstreet.

     The evening also included a raffle and silent auction to benefit the music department and the Choir’s 2017 Tour in Ireland. Refreshments were provided by Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza in Wayne.

     Amadeus Under the Stars was a gift for the eyes and the ears. In the words of musician Brian May, “Music is about our internal life. It’s part of the way people touch each other….And astronomy is, in a sense, the very opposite thing. Instead of looking inwards, you are looking out, to things beyond our grasp.”

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