Imperial College London has partnered with a composer on a new educational programme that brings together space science and orchestral music.
Imperial has partnered with composer Amanda Lee Falkenberg to launch an ambitious and experimental educational programme which aims to bring science and orchestral music to a new generation of space explorers, scientists and engineers.
Space is for everybody, music is for everybody, and science is for everybody. Andrew Tebbutt Director of Outreach
The Moons Symphony enables listeners to explore some of the most amazing moons in our solar system through sound. Produced in collaboration with scientists and the UK’s first astronaut, Helen Sharman OBE, The Moons Symphony is accompanied by a programme of events and resources to engage young people from underrepresented backgrounds with classical music and science.
“We go to concerts in the evening to listen to music, that's fun, but I want science to be fun as well and I think this project can really kickstart that for a lot of young people,” said Helen.
Imperial’s Director of Outreach, Andrew Tebbutt, said, “[The project] has a message of hope because space is for everybody, music is for everybody, and science is for everybody. And the intersection of all that gives incredible, creative, hopeful opportunity.”
Last year, a report revealed “shocking” barriers to young people accessing classical music, with young people from higher income families significantly overrepresented across the industry’s training opportunities. In the same vein, students from disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely to perform well in science GCSEs, and around half as likely to progress to science or mathematics A levels, compared to students not from disadvantaged backgrounds.
This event has made me feel a lot more interested in planets and space. Looking in the future, if I were to come [to Imperial], I'd be very happy and proud. School student
A recent launch event saw Imperial host a performance unlike any other combining science, music and space for pupils in Years 11, 12 and 13. The audience learned how science helped the development of the musical symphony and scientific concepts flowed seamlessly into excerpts of the music with world-leading experts from Imperial – Professor Michele Dougherty and Professor Mark Sephton – sharing the stories behind the moons.
“I think the music was really cool, it was really expressive and I thought they really linked well to the subject,” said one student. Another said, “This event has made me feel a lot more interested in planets and space. Looking in the future, if I were to come [to Imperial], I'd be very happy and proud.”
The Moons Symphony is a seven-movement piece – one for each of the seven most-fascinating moons in our solar system. Speaking about her fascination with these moons, Falkenburg said, “These moons need music – these moons need emotion.” Falkenberg says her experience as a film composer made her acutely aware of music’s emotional power and how she could unleash the moons’ secrets and transport the listener to experience each moon’s unique exotic habitats on a stunning space adventure.
The Moons Symphony culminates in a powerful final movement, with full choir and soloists, representing humanity standing together on the surface of our moon to view our planet from this unique vantage point.
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