THINKING, FEELING

December 2, 2007 § Leave a comment

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Hiram Pines’ one-man show, The Day the Universe Came Closer, travels gently and with wit through science, epistemology and religion tries to make a darn good case for the brilliance of the human instrument. Hiram, who recently moved to New York, will perform about half of the 45-minute stage play, focusing on a funny little thing that messed with our heads for hundreds of thousands of years.

Neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux, from the Center for Neural Science at NYU, author of “The Synaptic Self” and “The Emotional Brain,” will talk about the separation of cognition and emotion in the brain and the consequences that has for our interpersonal (and international) relations. He will emphasize fear as the main example. LeDoux is also one of the founding members of the stellar downtown rock group, the Amygdaloids.

And Aud Wilken, a wonderful new voice from Denmark, will sing some of her beautiful songs for us.

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ALL IS PATTERN

November 4, 2007 § Leave a comment

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What do galaxies, grapes, soil food webs, Zen ensos and dance troupes have in common? They are all patterns made of interacting parts. Tonight environmental scientist (and patternologist) Tyler Volk of NYU explores the nature of patterns in nature, culture, and the rest of the universe, and asks if there could be a science of everything based on patterns. His thoughts spin on the complementarity between patterns and their functions, for remarkable convergences are born when the forms that are woven by diverse scales of nature and culture (and even our minds) share common roles.

And, you ask, what more quintessential patterns of culture are there than dance and music? When Claude Debussy chastised Erik Satie, remarking that the eccentric composer ought to “soigner sa forme”–pay better attention to form–Satie replied, not in words, but in music. His riposte is the “Three Pieces in the Form of a Pear,” a short suite for piano four-hands whose witty irony (not without a touch of sarcasm) is already signaled by the fact that the music consists not of three pieces, but seven.

Choreographer Christopher Caines, together with members of his dance company, presents excerpts from a new work in progress (specially arranged for the Cornelia Street Café) exploring this pivotal score in Satie’s oeuvre. Caines, a 2006 Guggenheim Fellow, should prove the ideal choreographer to illuminate questions of structure, form, and pattern in the relation of dance to music.

HARMONIOUS TRIADS

October 7, 2007 § Leave a comment

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The nineteenth century witnessed an incredible spurt of musical creation. And, in the same period, physicists and musical instrument makers, working together with composers and performers, tried to understand the nature of musical genius and virtuosity, the underlying physics of acoustics, and the instruments themselves. Myles W. Jackson, the new Dibner Professor of the History of Science and Technology at Polytechnic University, tells us of this exciting period. And talented young musicians, Pico Alt (Violin); Christina Courtin (Viola), and Jeremy Turner (Cello), play a Beethoven string trio for us.

ENTERTAINING SCIENCE — COLTRANE, EINSTEIN, AND COSMOLOGY 2

July 1, 2007 § Leave a comment

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Channelling the Sound of the Cosmos with cosmologist and sax player Stephon Alexander and his trio. Plus, the interactive musical systems of Robert Rowe, composer and music theorist.
Ever since the discovery of the ‘quantum fluctuations’ in the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation in the early nineties, people have tried to figure out how the primordial structures in the universe emerged from ‘nothing’. Stephon Alexander, a cosmologist at Penn State as well as a superb sax player and composer, will explore with us the origin and persistence of large scale structure formation in the universe. And, with his group, reinterpret this process through jazz improvisation, resonance and rhythm.

He will be paired with composer and NYU music theorist Robert Rowe, whose work has two main strands: the programming of music composition and improvisation, and interactive music systems, in which composition is influenced by a machine analysis of human musical expression during live performance. If you will, a search for large- and small-scale structure formation in improvised and composed music over time.

REFLECTIONS OF THE ANIMAL MIND

June 3, 2007 § Leave a comment

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The Face in the Mirror: Reflections of the Animal Mind

Do other animals share with us a sense of self? How big and complex a brain does it take to recognize that the one staring back at you in a mirror – is you! Diana Reiss, cognitive psychologist at Hunter College and senior research scientist at Wildlife Conservation Society presents her compelling work showing that dolphins and elephants, along with great apes and humans are members of an exclusive club whose members recognize themselves.

And can elephants make art and music? We’ll explore this question with a brand-new video of musician Dave Soldier teaching and conducting the Thai Elephant Orchestra, and a presentation of elephant art by David Ferris, director of the Asian Elephant Art & Conservation Project.

HE SAYS, SHE SAYS, EITHER WAY IT’S ALL PHALLACY

May 6, 2007 § Leave a comment

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She’s a top art historian in a world famous museum. He’s a distinguished professor of chemistry. She searches for artistic truth through connoisseurship; he finds scientific fact through cold material analysis. Between them stands the object of her affection: a revered classical statue long thought to be a roman original…and he just proved it to be a 16th century cast. But is it now worth less? Is it now less beautiful? As personal rivalries and professional reputations clash, how far will each go to prove the other wrong?

Renowned chemist and playwright Carl Djerassi will engage his biting wit to illuminate the background behind his new play PHALLACY, which is based on real events in a major European museum. Actors Lisa Harrow and Simon Jones will then preview a scene from PHALLACY, which will run at the Cherry Lane Theatre from May 15 – June 10.

ART, SONG, AND SCIENCE IN TIBET

April 28, 2007 § Leave a comment

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Richard R. Ernst, a scientist who later won the Chemistry Nobel Prize, discovered by accident in 1968 the beauty of Tibetan painting. He will share his personal fascination with Tibetan art through slides that reveal another cultural world; its philosophical and religious background will be touched. The attraction of Tibetan art comes from a highly perfected pictorial language that allows the painter to express eternal truths in vivid, easily understood images. This is an art of nearly limitless creativity. And it is difficult to escape its colorful attraction. The speaker cannot, will not fully hide his own professional interests when he speaks also about pigment analysis and conservation of the delicate paintings.

The evening will feature a performance by Yungchen Lhamo, a compelling performer of Tibetan song, who explores with talent and deep feeling the country’s traditional themes of spiritual pilgrimage and delight in nature. Yungchen has been called “a voice from the skies.”

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