Apollo Chamber Players will dive deeper into the story of the “Silenced Voices” season with composer, multimedia artist and writer Paul D. Miller (aka DJ Spooky), whose work immerses audiences in a mix of genres, global culture and environmental problems. Spanning multiple eras, the Apollo concert delves into the history of banned theories in science and astronomy to current warnings from climate scientists and the relevance of George Orwell’s 1984 Canceled. The multi-sensory concert will take place at 8 p.m., Saturday, November 18, at the Burke Baker Planetarium at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.
Apollo founder Matthew Detrick shared what he was thinking when putting this program together.
“What really struck me was the cancellation of Copernicus, Galileo and other remarkable astronomers and scientists who challenged notions of how our world and our universe worked,” Detrick said. “What they were talking about was considered heresy, and I think what’s interesting is that in the 19th century the Church finally said, ‘Oh, we’re sorry. It turns out you’re right. Earth spins around the Sun.
Score one for the scientific method, even if you’re late to the party.
Cancellation for unpopular or contrarian beliefs is not something new. For example, how excited can people get about putting pineapple on pizza or adding beans to chili? Now imagine extrapolating that fervor to something like religious beliefs or the order of the universe.
“It’s ridiculous when you think about it, and that’s where Enlightenment comes in,” Detrick said. “The Enlightenment is why we have democracy, why we have the country that we have, why we have the world that we have. It comes down to trusting the human condition and human reason.
To enhance the concert, Apollo Chamber Players invited DJ Spooky to provide a multi-sensory element, including visual and audio elements guaranteed to impress.
He brings his own list of qualifications.
DJ Spooky, composer, multimedia artist and writer, is currently an artist in residence at the Yale University Center for Collaborative Arts and Media. He has collaborated with many artists, including Ryuichi Sakamoto, Metallica, Chuck D of Public Enemy, Steve Reich and Yoko Ono, among others. He was named a National Geographic Emerging Explorer in 2014 and his work has been exhibited at the Whitney Biennial, the Venice Architecture Biennale, the Miami/Art Basel Fair, and many other museums and galleries.
For the concert, Apollo and DJ Spooky will perform parts of his Arctic Rhythms project and music, then also team up with George Orwell in 1984.
To complete the Arctic Rhythms project, DJ Spooky traveled to the Arctic and captured the sounds of the region, where he then translated the experience into various forms of data. He says 1984 and his Arctic experience share a similar connection.
“Both have a common thread: data. What you’ll hear with Arctic Rhythms is a distillation of the climate data I was looking at when I was working on a series of projects I like to call acoustic portraits,” said DJ Spooky. “When I say ‘portrait’, we usually think of a painting or a sculpture, but as a composer and artist it is extremely important to think of a sound as a dimension and a realization of ideas.”
To complement his initial project, DJ Spooky wrote a series of projects looking at the rhythms and tempos disrupted by climate change, because the planet and the weather, as he observes it, constitute a model.
“Let’s think of this as sound overlay. And how do we get the sound? We play with computers. That’s what we do these days,” he said.
The Orwell Project (1984) is a meditation, “with regret and melancholy,” he added.
“It’s eerily accurate,” he said. “There is a certain level of misinformation, computer propaganda and other issues that reflect on how contemporary memory and the way we tell ourselves stories has been hijacked by algorithms, misinformation and so on. 1984 is something of a touchstone, a cautionary tale.
Detrick agrees, which is why he included this lineup in the season.
“(1984 is) still relevant, even more so to today’s society, in the context of censorship and book banning,” Detrick said.
Space is limited, so buy a ride (don’t walk) to purchase tickets.
Apollo Chamber Players will present “Canceled” at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18 at the Museum of Natural Sciences, 5555 Hermann Park. For tickets or information, visit apollochamberplayers.org. $10 – $40.