Science and music collide in a symphony of black holes in the Museum of Science

Black holes are the most massive gravitational engines in the universe, but what most of us probably know about them can fit in a thimble. A new collaboration from music, art and science from the Multiverse Concert series offers the opportunity to learn much more about these mysteries of space. As part of the Museum of Science’s Summer Thursdays series, the Black Hole Symphony will premiere to a sold-out audience on June 23 (additional performances on July 28 and August 25) at the Charles Hayden Planetarium. Featuring live, original music composed by Multiverse Concert Series founder David Ibeth, the new show includes research from Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and experts from Harvard University’s Black Hole Initiative, with visuals designed by the planetarium team. MOS.

“It’s a beautiful and incredibly immersive experience that really takes everyone on a journey and allows people to get closer to a black hole than they ever imagined,” said James Monroe, producer of adult and theatrical experiences at the museum. “Although there is a lot of mystery surrounding black holes, there are many things we know and I am excited for the audience to come and learn about these objects that have fascinated the world so much.”

Three years into the making, the multimedia project was conceived by Ibet after a conversation with Harvard astrophysicist Anna Barnaka. “We’ve started talking about black holes, and there’s so much more beyond this void we’re thinking about,” Ibet said. “They radiate incredible energy and are at the center of every galaxy.” He calls them “gravity in its most extreme and crazy form.”

Black Holes seemed the perfect theme for his series of concerts, Multiverse, a non-profit association of musicians, artists and scientists that began in 2017 to create immersive multimedia experiences that stimulate amazement and curiosity about science. As a composer and visiting professor at Berkeley College of Music and Worcester Polytechnic, Ibet found the universal language of music to be a particularly effective way to share the richness of scientific discoveries. “Music has this special way of engaging the whole person – mind, ears, emotions,” he says. “I believe that the sound and emotional power of music can help us tell about the world we live in in a language that can reach a wide range of people.”

A native of Coventry, England, and the son of a research chemist, Ibet has no scientific experience, but children’s visits to his father’s laboratory sparked curiosity about research. After earning a doctorate in composition with a degree in electronic music, Ibet settled in Boston eight years ago and founded the nonprofit organization Multiverse to combine his love of music and science with live performance. So far, he and the organization’s projects have focused on fluid dynamics, coral bleaching and subatomic neutrinos – Ibet was the first guest composer in particle physics and the Fermilab accelerator laboratory.

To create music for the 42-minute Black Hole Symphony, Ibet turned the frequencies of light into sound waves based on the electromagnetic spectrum of an active galaxy containing a supermassive black hole. “In it, you can split the frequencies to see the ‘color’ of each component, from dust and broad-line clouds to relativistic plasma jets and flaming accretion disks,” he said. “Although these frequencies are too widespread to visualize, we can listen to them by comparing light frequencies with sound waves that become musical notes on a black hole chord. Orchestrating his symphony for chamber orchestra and electronics, he composed a work combining classical and electronic styles, with special themes for different characteristics of the black hole.

Ibbett’s goal is to provide a science experience “right now, using as much data as possible to be accurate, and using music and visualization to be immersive, ear-catching.” You will feel some of the frequencies passing through the floor. I hope this will be an emotionally powerful experience as well as an intellectually enriching one.

The project marks the first full-scale collaboration that Monroe’s adult production team has established with external partners. “What I like about the Multiverse concert series is that they combine art, science and technology in unique ways to provide access points to these complex STEM topics,” says Monroe, “so everyone can participate in these conversations.” and to study. ”

The show was created for touring – with live music or a pre-packaged version using recorded sound – and Monroe says other museums and planetariums across the country have shown interest in commitments since its world premiere this summer. “I’m convinced it will have a life outside of Boston and a return to engagement here,” he said. “David’s work as a composer is incredibly beautiful and is such a unique synthesis that each component is rooted in research that is unique in this field. It changes the landscape of scientific communication, and it’s exciting to be a part of it. “

Black Hole Symphony, June 23 (sold out), replay July 28 and August 257:30 p.m., Science Museum, Science Park 1. $ 20, mos.org.

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