Our Artist Residencies are as much an opportunity for Yellow Barn’s audience, staff, and the Putney community to explore new ideas as they are for the resident artists themselves.
As I am sure it is for many, the planetarium was always one of my favorite places to visit as a child. Looking forward to Yellow Barn's upcoming residency devoted to the preparation and performance of Gerard Grisey's Le Noir de l'Etoile, I put together a group of pieces that like Le Noir de l'Etoile draw inspiration from and give new meaning to natural wonders. In addition, I asked a friend who turned his love of astronomy into real knowledge, to recommend several books (and a few videos) that might take us into that universe soon to be explored by Yellow Barn's six percussionists and Tom Geballe of the Gemini Observatory.
Franz Schubert (1797-1828) Winterreise (1827)
Thomas Quasthoff, baritone, and Daniel Barenboim, piano
CD or DVD
This great song cycle sets 24 poems of Wilhelm Muller. It is one of the most heart-wrenching works Schubert wrote and was completed in the last year of his life. It uses the natural world as emotional metaphor as well as word painting.
The baritone, Thomas Quasthoff, has serious birth defects from thalidomide poisoning, which shortened his arms and legs, and he has just retired at the age of 52. His story is quite incredible and would be one that speaks of great courage (and enormous talent).
After almost 40 years, I have decided to retire from concert life. My health no longer allows me to live up to the high standard that I have always set for my art and myself. I owe a lot to this wonderful profession and leave without a trace of bitterness.
On the contrary, I am looking forward to the new challenges that will now enter my life. I would like to thank all my fellow musicians and colleagues, with whom I stood together on stage, all the organizers, and my audience for their loyalty. —Thomas Quasthoff
John Luther Adams (b. 1953) Earth and the Great Weather (1990-93)
Earth and the Great Weather is a 75-minute musical evocation of Alaskan peoples, wildlife, and weather. Subtitled “A Sonic Geography of the Arctic”, Adams’s writing is based on the aural mood unique to each place and each moment. Innovatively tuned strings, percussion interludes, and voices are woven with the sounds of loons, cranes, wind, waves, thunder, and glacial cracking (all recorded by Adams himself).
Gustav Holst (1874–1934) The Planets (1914-16)
CD: James Levine and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra
DVD: Houston Symphony and Music Director Hans Graf
Produced by celebrated filmmaker Duncan Copp, The Planets - An HD Odyssey marries the latest images returned from planetary spacecraft with Holst's music to provide a mesmerizing spectacle. Disc one contains the film accompanied by a newly recorded soundtrack by the Houston Symphony and the women of the Houston Symphony Chorus. Disc two contains a documentary with an in- depth interview with Music Director Hans Graf and interviews with leading planetary scientists.
H. A. Rey The Stars - A New Way to See Them
From the author of Curious George comes a book of art and writing designed to bring science to a general audience. Containing star charts, a guide to the constellations, and details about seasons and the movement of the objects we see in the sky, this classic book makes evident H. A. Rey's passion for astronomy.
Chet Raymo 365 Starry Nights
Divided into 365 concise, illustrated essays, it focuses on the aesthetic as well as the scientific aspects of stargazing each night of the year. It offers the most up-to-date information available, with hundreds of charts, drawings, and maps. This simple yet substantial text is full of critical information and helpful hints on how to observe the stars; describe their position; and calculate their age, brightness, and distance.
Michael Benson Beyond: Visions of the Interplanetary Probes
To create Beyond, author Michael Benson spent years compiling and digitally processing 295 of the greatest photographs taken by the space crafts that have been exploring the solar system for almost half a century. The images, many revealing iconic landmarks, are of a quality to rival the greatest landscape photography on Earth. The text is eloquent and informative, with contributions by legendary science-fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke and award-winning critic Laurence Weschler, as well as essays by the author.
Brian Cox’s Wonders of the Solar System and Wonders of the Universe (BBC TV)
(with accompanying books)
Wonders of the Solar System and Wonders of the Universe introduce us to the planets and moons beyond our world, finding the biggest, most bizarre, and most powerful natural phenomena. Using the latest scientific imagery along with cutting edge CGI and some of the most spectacular and extreme locations on Earth, Brian Cox explores how these previously unseen phenomena have dramatically expanded our horizons with new discoveries about the planets, their moons, and how they came to be the way they are.
Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking (Discovery Channel)
(also his book A Brief History of Time)
With profound imagination, internationally renowned physicist Stephen Hawking plunges into the exotic realms of black holes and quarks, of antimatter and “arrows of time,” of the big bang and a bigger God—where the possibilities are wondrous and unexpected.
Website for the Gemini Observatory
Visit the Gemini Observatory website
for videos, podcasts, a visual tour on the World Wide Telescope, and other images.