H is a multimedia performance piece inspired by the structure of the universe around us, as understood through the lens of modern physics and cosmology. The project was conceived through a collaboration between artist Henry Schmidt and composer Matt Curlee. The initial incarnation of H is designed for live performance; subsequent development of an installation piece is planned.
The music of H sketches out a story on time scales of billions of years, and of a single lifetime. The nine movements create a cycle of transitions, from energy to matter, to the rise of life and breath, to motion, to consciousness, action, and repose, ultimately leading back to matter and energy.
The music seeks to reflect the fundamental architecture of our universe, beginning with the orchestration itself: the three ensembles (jazz quintet, string orchestra, choir) plus percussion echo the 3+1 structure of the hydrogen atom, the basic building block of the cosmos. On various levels of structure, the music is encoded with the fabric of astrophysics, particle physics, quantum field theory, and the geology, biology, and chemistry all around us. Musical ideas rise and fall like the many evolutions and deaths that make up the history of time and of our own planet. H paints the picture of a universe which dwarfs our human experience of space and time, but to which we are intimately connected.
News about upcoming events, musings and reflections on the project, program notes, and more.
Background image: Genomic Histories, featuring Brianna Williams, dancer/choreographer; photo by Amy Zhang
Histories is a continuing set of collaborations between composer Matt Curlee and physicist Regina Demina exploring the fundamental narratives, at various scales, that make up our reality. Two existing cycles, Fermion Histories and Genomic Histories, tell the stories, respectively, of matter (starting with the Principle of Least Action and progressing through spontaneous symmetry breaking, quantum electrodynamics, and ultimate heat death) and of life (from its foundations, to the birth of consciousness, to the inevitability and naturalness of death). Each cycle is reflected by a type of motion in space – that of a solo dancer in Genomic Histories, and Demina’s rendering of crystalline equations that underlie the stories of forces and particles, itself a kind of dance, in Fermion Histories. The goal is an expression of the fractal nature of reality, in which analogous forms reproduce themselves on vastly separated levels, from particle physics, to genetics, to the very structure and processes of music, dance, and the visual arts.
Photo by Gerry Szymanski