Trombonist Tom Richards is not only performing this Saturday for Starry Night, but also wrote a piece inspired by the recent Rosetta probe on Comet 67P. Tom tell’s us about how this recent scientific mission inspired him to write his piece “Rosetta”:
The opportunity to compose a piece for Starry Night came onto my radar concurrently with the news that an unmanned spacecraft built by the ESA had successfully landed on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. During it’s approach to the comet, the spacecraft, nick-named Rosetta, recorded fluctuations in the weak magnetic field. These frequencies were,through some subtle manipulation, able to be represented as an audio signal. Voila, the comet was singing!
This was my point of departure for composing Rosetta. Using the comet’s own recorded voice, I wanted to explore the relationship between humans, technology, and the cosmos, using the following themes:
1. We rely on technology to gather information about the universe.
2. We design technology with an expectation about what is real and measurable.
3. The limitations of our technology shape our understanding of what is real.
4. Our observations are anthropomorphic. We want to recognize ourselves in the universe.
5. Studying the cosmos reveals as much about ourselves as it does about stars and planets.
Part One incorporates live electronic audio-processing. Beginning from an acoustic space, individuals add their voice to an evolving narrative. The movement ends with the audio signal being degraded beyond recognition. This is the mirror-image of the process which occurs when our minds seek pattern recognition and meaning in a chaotic universe. In thiscase, human experience is pulled back like a curtain to reveal a sea of noise. We have entered the information age.
Part Two begins with the comet’s voice in a duet with the residual noise from Part One. The sound of the comet is rhythmic and ghostly, meandering around one pitch. It has been modified and processed to allow the musical aspects of it’s song to rise to the surface. The musicians play along with the comet. Interlocking rhythms and melodies evoke the relentless passing of time.
Part Three is a human story about our search for meaning. It is a tale told and re-told by generations. This story seems new to each person telling it, but it is always the same. It is the telling itself which shapes who we are and why we are here.
Hear Tom’s piece at Starry Night on February 7th!
Tom Richards is a trombonist, pianist, composer and conductor living in Toronto. He leads an alt-electro-jazz quartet called Riverrun and is a sideman in more than a dozen active projects. Riverrun has become well known for pushing the boundaries of conventional practice through the radical use of technology and the staging of 12-hour marathon performances.
As a trombonist, Tom has recorded and performed with The Wooden Sky, The Hidden Cameras, Spoon, The Human Rights, Shred Kelly, The Thing Is, The Australian Art Orchestra, Theatre Columbus, and many others. Tom has written and performed several hundred pieces of original music, ranging from solo repertoire to large ensemble works. Tom’s composition Full and Empty Barrel for trumpet and piano was premiered at the Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal Standard Life Competition in November, 2014.