Planetarium Hosts “Music of the Spheres,” a Multi-Media Journey to the Stars

Friday, September 27, 2019, 6:44 am
By: 
Sarah Spohn

Photo of the start of the 2017 solar eclipse by Kepler Domurat-Sousa.

Perhaps you have been to the Abrams Planetarium for one of their public shows. But chances are good that you have not experienced MSU’s planetarium quite like this before.

This Sunday, Sept. 29, from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m., David Meeder will bring his band of friends to perform “Music of the Spheres – a Multi-Media Musical Journey” at the Abrams Planetarium.

After the show received a good response from local community residents last spring, Meeder decided to bring it back. Meeder tells ELi that he was originally inspired to put the program together after attending a friend’s gathering where they were playing gongs on an East and Southeast Asian musical percussion instrument.

As Meeder listened to the healing vibrations of the gong, he pictured something much bigger.

“As I listened to it, the sound just inspired me.” It made him think “of the planets, the universe, and space is what I saw in my mind,” he said.

“I thought ‘this would be great to bring to the planetarium.’”

The show features live music performed by a band including Meeder, Rich Illman, Kirby Merrill, Heather Katz, Dana Pipe Djembre, and Sharon Harris. The music is accompanied by unique, colorful graphics projected on the planetarium dome.

“Rich has a program that is interactive with the music, so the graphics are affected by the music – it reacts in real time to the music,” Meeder explained, as “the sound vibrations generate the visuals.“

“Of course,” says Meeder, “you’ve got all the great dome imagery and some of the graphics that John French is so great at doing, so we incorporate all that into it.”

Production Coordinator John French has been with Abrams since 2002, but has been programming planetarium shows since 1988.

“I went to college for astronomy, and always liked the night sky,” French said. “I also did my graduate work in secondary education and teaching. The planetarium was the perfect combination of teaching and astronomy, and I was able to do something I enjoy doing, and share it with other people.”

The hour-long “Music of the Spheres” program features a variety of worldly music, graphics, visuals, and mediums.

“The music varies from rocking numbers to very ethereal, relaxing kind of music,” French said.

Digital illustrations scribble on the screen as the sounds of digeridoos, Native American flutes, and thunderbolts fill the planetarium’s theater. Displayed geometric shapes twist and turn to the live band’s different musical tempos.

The far-ranging set list includes Elton John’s “Rocket Man” with a special video filmed for the planetarium dome format. Spoken word is also included, with a performance from Meeder’s father, a former actor.

The first half features standard songs and is followed by the “journey” – a continuous string of music lasting roughly 20 minutes.

The kid-friendly event was well-received last year. Abrams also hosts Pink Floyd nights and video game nights, and is always willing to work with community members with providing a space for their events – musical, artistic, and more.

Tickets for this show are $10 and only available at the door. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m., and the show starts promptly at 7 p.m. For more information, visit the event page.

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