Scattered throughout the varying levels of the Ian Potter Museum of Art, 36 singers stand lining the outskirts of the towering stair case wearing metallic-sliver hooded capes. As a Cellist plays, coloured lights flicker on and off, mirroring the rotating sound of the chorus who send their voices echoing throughout the open space.
A Galaxy of Suns is a unique collaboration between contemporary music, art, astronomy and design. Showcasing at the Melbourne Festival as part of the exhibition The Score, the performance allows the audience to experience what it would be like if stars could sing.
Visual artist Michaela Gleave, composer Amanda Cole and app developer/digital artist Warren Armstrong have come together to create a work of art that is self-described as, ‘operating on a galactic scale.’ Working with advising astronomer Dr Michael Fitzgerald, the team have created an app that uses GPS to deliver micro-tonal sonic cues to the singers. This means that the choir is able to ‘sing’ the stars live, in real-time reflection their location in the sky.
The audience is instructed to move around the museum as the performance takes place. At the beginning it is a little confusing, as everyone is unsure where to stand or what to look for. As the choir arrive and begin to take their place along the stairs, it is still not clear what exactly is going on. Rather than moving around, everyone chooses a piece of railing to lean up against and look over the stair well, trying to catch a glimpse of whatever it is we are looking at.
However as the voices begin to rise, each changing their tone as the light hits them, it becomes apparent that you don’t need to see, you just have to listen.
It is an intense performance, and the way in which it is presented feels very out of this world- which is the point. If you really just pause, close your eyes and listen to the sounds as they move throughout the building, you do almost feel like you are there in the night’s sky floating among the stars.
A Galaxy of Suns is described as, ‘a celebration of beauty and wonder,’ and that’s exactly what it is. It brings the stars to life in a truly unique and delicate way.
A Galaxy of Suns is running at the University of Melbourne until 5 November 2017. More info is available HERE.