REVIEWS from the premiere performance of Earthrise:  (Quotes from extended reviews)

"Finally, amid the murmurs and pulsations, the wonderment and the vertigo, a three-syllable love theme marked the moment humans looked back and saw their own home, the tiny blue Earth, rising above the horizon of the Moon.

An inner voice seemed to whisper, “There it is. There it is.” Massive pillars of melody in the brass underpinned what may be history’s most dramatic epiphany — the shocking image of Earthrise.  

At that moment, tears welled up in my eyes. I found myself thinking, not about space travel, but about the end of Thornton Wilder’s play “Our Town,” when the dead Emily rises from the cemetery to watch her own 12th birthday party and futilely urges the living people to appreciate what they have."

 

Lawrence Cosentino, City Pulse, Lansing 

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"What resulted was a beautiful, almost visual journey through the stars called "Earthrise." His brilliant orchestration used every square inch of the orchestra."

 

Ken Glickman, GlickArts
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Earthrise Full.jpeg
 

Inspired by the iconic and arguably the most important environmental photo EARTHRISE, taken by astronaut

Bill Anders on the first-ever trip around the moon

THE EARTHRISE PHOTO taken by WILLIAM ANDERS on the APOLLO 8 MISSION

PROGRAM NOTE

In 2021 I applied to go to space.  An eccentric billionaire had purchased all the seats for the first trip on the Elon Musk/SpaceX inaugural flight around the moon and was looking for eight artists to join.  2021 being a full year into the pandemic, there was, and it seems to me, continues to be an overwhelming desire to escape; escape the pandemic, escape politics, escape our bubbles, escape war, escape the climate crises, and if you have a few billion dollars, temporarily escape the planet. 

 

In my application I suggested that they might pick a composer (myself), and I would write a new orchestral soundtrack for space travel.  Some of the other space repertoire is among the most well-known (Star Wars, Also Sprach Zarathustra, The Planets).  At the time it felt oddly coincidental that the exact model of microphones I use for my soundscape recordings became the first sent to Mars on the NASA Perseverance Rover and the first to capture audio on another planet.  I was not picked to go to space, (the trip hasn’t yet happened), but I decided to write a “space piece” anyway.

 

EARTHRISE–– In 1968, the groundbreaking Apollo 8 mission had two firsts; they ventured outside of Earth’s gravitational field, and they took the first trip around the moon.  Astronauts William Anders, James Lovell, and Frank Borman were tasked with surveying the dark side of the moon.  William Anders remarked “Nobody asked me to take a picture of Earth, I didn’t think about it either.”1 In a twist of fate, as the three astronauts orbited the moon for a third time, their lunar module rotated ever so slightly, bringing the earth into view above the barren horizon of the moon.  Astronaut Bill Anders (recorded on tape) is audibly moved, and scrambles to load color film into his camera and snap what became one of the most important photos of the 20th century, now known as EARTHRISE.   

 

Of Earth, James Lovell remarked “You don’t see cities, you don’t see boundaries, you don’t see countries, you don’t see people, it looks like the place is uninhabited.” Frank Borman opined “What they should have sent was poets, because I don’t think we captured in its entirety the grandeur of what we had seen… It’s only when you get into the deeper space that you experience the total immersion in the heavens.”  William Anders reflected “When I looked at Earth on the way back and had a little time to be more contemplative…it got me thinking really for the first time, that we are just a small piece of an almost infinite universe.”  

The Earthrise photo is considered the most important environmental photo, a main catalyst for the environmental movement, and connected to the founding of Earth day.  

Astronaut quotes from:

1. Vaughn-Lee, Emmanuel, director. Earthrise, PBS, 1 Oct. 2018, https://www.pbs.org/pov/watch/earthrise/.

Accessed 1 May 2022.

** Coincidentally, I finished Earthrise on Earth Day, 2022.  

I don’t want to tell you how to experience this music, but I can offer some insight into what I was thinking while writing.  There is a sense of awe in looking at the night sky, the vastness of the universe and the improbability of reaching the moon let alone our closet stars.  If you are one of the 24 humans to-date to take the 240,000 mile trip– the excitement of skyward travel is accompanied by the violence of exiting Earth’s atmosphere and gravitational pull.  As you escape, you are at the mercy of your equipment and present company, floating.  Perhaps you have the feeling that many who take the trip have– we are a speck in the universe, orbiting an otherwise unremarkable star; everything you love is back on that tiny blue marble. 

 

WATCH/LISTEN

INSTRUMENTATION

2222 / 4231 / timpani+2 perc., harp, strings

2 flutes, 2nd doubling piccolo, oboe, english horn, 2 Bb clarinets, 2 bassoons, 
4 horns, 2 trumpets, 2 tenor trombones, bass trombone, tuba
timpani, 2 percussionists,
harp
strings

**New instrumentation for larger orchestra in process

Premiere: Lansing Symphony, Timothy Muffitt conductor