Evoking the Wonder of James Webb Space Telescope Through Sound

This image of a star forming was one of the first pictures released to the public that were taken by the James Webb Space Telescope.

Dickinson presents concert inspired by world-famous photographs

by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson

There was a time, last July, when many around the world seemed to press “pause” on the cacophony of their daily lives to marvel at some images online. It was the moment that NASA’s Goddard Space Center released to the public the first five images taken by the James Webb Space Telescope. In the days and weeks that followed, those gasp-inducing, awe-inspiring images of cosmic cliffs and dying stars inspired a rare sense of wonder over the glittering amazements of our shared universe and sparked curiosity about the great vastness beyond.

Visiting Instructor of Music Lisa Turchi was moved to tears by those fantastical images. Months later, she leads Dickinson singers in a concert that taps into the complexities and beauty those images evoke. The fall choir concert, Wonder, Awe & Mystery, runs Saturday, Nov. 12, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 13, at 4 p.m., in Rubendall Recital Hall. Admission is free, and masks are optional.

The concert is directed by Turchi, who leads the choir this year while Professor of Music Amy Wlodarski is abroad, leading the Dickinson-in-Bologna program. The choir will perform works by Samuel Barber, Ä’riks Ešenvald, Morten Lauridsen, Erika Lloyd, Randall Thompson, and Eric Whitacre that Turchi selected to evoke the depth of emotion and connectedness she experienced while looking at Webb-telescope pictures. A representative of the physics & astronomy department will give a brief presentation.

"Images of space from the James Webb telescope are captivating and awe-inspiring, and here on Earth, from growing plants and ancient forests to the fires of love, countless wonders leave us speechless," Turchi says. “This concert takes the ineffable and finds a way to express the beauty and wonder in it. We hope to share that with our audiences this weekend.”

The concert is only one of the many inspiring arts events presented at Dickinson this fall, which include impactful artistic residencies, a dynamic production of Mother Courage, a music-drenched exhibition of works by Professor Emeritus Ward Davenny at The Trout Gallery, and an orchestra concert focusing on Carmen and the macabre, to name just a few. For a complete schedule of upcoming Dickinson Arts events, visit the Calendar of Arts.


Published November 10, 2022