Welcome to the virtual home of H. We hope you'll join us as we count down to the February 19 Rochester premiere of this new multimedia collaboration, which began in the mind and hands of Buffalo-area artist Henry Schmidt. Early discussions of a cross-disciplinary project between Henry and myself revealed that we were excited about some parallel concepts. I had been pursuing an on-the-side study of modern physics and cosmology, and was very interested in representing fundamental structures of the natural world in music. Henry was working on an aesthetic structure of stepwise phase transitions, and when we put those two things together, something really interesting started to emerge - a work that could be viewed on various time scales: as the story of an individual life, of a planet, and of a young universe. Soon, a digital animator got involved and brought with him the bleeding edge of motion design; his role has been to bridge between the crystalline world of visual ideas and the real-time unfolding of musical ones to create a piece for live performance or installation.
Since I wanted to start with fundamental building blocks, the hydrogen atom emerged as kind of a central icon for the work. Of the things that we can see (and at least kind of understand), hydrogen is the most abundant resource in the universe: the lifeblood of the stars, and the fuel for the stellar manufacture of the heavier elements that make up the earth we stand on, the atmosphere we breathe, our bodies, and ramen noodles. And puppies. And your favorite hoodie.
In coming weeks, I'll post a series of program notes here about the score, a 9-movement piece lasting about an hour and involving three ensembles (a string orchestra, a jazz quintet, and a choir) plus percussion and organ, previewing each of the movements. Meanwhile, it's an exciting time in preparation for February 19: groups of Eastman students, faculty, and alumni have started to meet to rehearse the music, and we're knee-deep in ironing out the dozens of little technical wrinkles involved in making this all come together. The first live performance of the piece will be just the beginning of something great, I think, and we hope that you can be a part of it.