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Sunday, 22 July 2012





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From the Royal Festival Hall:

The flight of Icarus

Who is he? I never knew either; not until I took my seat at the Royal Festival Hall to hear the London Philharmonic Orchestra play Icarus at the edge of time by the world famous conductor, Marin Alsop. I had nothing else to do that evening and it was too chilly to browse around.

The Internationally renowned Conductor
Marin Alsop conducts the London Philharmonic Orchestra in the ICARUS Symphony at the Royal Festival Hall, London.

And wasn't I surprised? you bet I was to hear the glorious music of Philip Glass especially written for the evening as well as for a few days to follow. I was not comfortable about the set up and it took some time for me to settle down.

When I turned around and saw the jam-packed R.F.H. auditorium, I knew I had hit the right spot. They were all a living witnesses to what I heard and saw. It was unique, unparalleled how a science fiction written for young adults could capture the imagination to sit upon the prestigious LPO.

Creating Icarus was a phenomenon that its creator, physicist Brian Greene achieved. His one idea was to transform it to a love performance, wither in the theatre or a long medley of delightful sounds to attract its young readers. He went into the edge-of-the-seat quality along with some great work of interest in the field of modern-classical music. So, it was Philip Glass who subsequently emerged in his mind to do the score. Glass had figured in some of Einstein, Kepler, Galileo and Stephen Hawking's music on stage but this was different as had the challenge to face up to the LPO with Marin Alsop with the baton.

But he later said, 'I've always thought that scientists were really poets and that they were dreamers in the real world' which accounted him being the choice of Brian Greene. In reality, it was Glass' romantic music that made Greene feel he was the right composer to bring the Icarus story to life. With his vast knowledge and experience in music and film, Glass along with Greene agreed that moving images with narration and full symphony orchestration would be most compelling as a story.


He was also faced with the problem whether the audience was in a position (like me for example) to digest the maths in this work of art because the legend is about a 14-year old Icarus who was destined to be born, live and die on the voyage. Sounds impossible because he is to die suffering from terrible pain arising from cabin fever. Icarus defies his father's warning and pleas not to take a ride to the edge of a black hole, just to prove he can. As stubborn as he was, Icarus fails where Einstein knew and in the process, he dramatically slows time.

The boy who dared to fly close to the sun wearing wax wings attached to his back. The wax melted and Icarus plunged to earth and drowned in the sea. He is part of space science.

This is where Glass' music comes into force and impact the audience of its significance. It is the moment that Icarus's father see his son slowing right down whereas in reality, he is ahead in time but the time has slowed compared to his father's time. It was the mixture of science, music and gravity all rolled into the LPO's symphonic presentation that in fact rose over gravity that moment when the audience was mesmerised into the science fiction that hit the world like hurricane. I was stunned too by the compelling music played under trying condition.

It is at this point I realised that prose has the luxury of speaking from a heart from a distance and then roll over to a live theatre to experience its effect and share with audiences as well as with performers and create more monologue within ourselves.

Brian Greene is the one who wrote this book and he is one of leading scientists which was a best seller the moment the book hit the shelves. He is Professor of Physics and Maths at the Columbia University in New York. He was responsible in involving part of his work focussed on getting people excited about science and their mysteries.

With this in mind, he wrote several papers and books for adults and children about space and the universe. He is reputed for his analys of work on string theory which is a particular and excing area of physcs which attempted to reach Einstein's dream of a unified theory of the universe.

The conductor

Thank God that I was born after Einstein and Darwin because I am still trying to figure out the basics of Darwin's theory of evolution that defies God's creation of the universe. I have read his theory over and over again and is convinced that he was also a creation of God because I am inspired by the Holy Bible and not by radical scientists however great they would have been.

The conductor for the evening was the vivacious Marin Also who rates very high along with the principal conductor, Vladimir Jurowski of the London Philharmonic Orchestra at The Royal Festival Hall.

She is one of the leading conductors of the world, let alone being a woman. Alsop created history when she was appointed music director of the Baltimore Symphonic Orchestra, in 2007. She was the first woman to head a major American orchestra while she was the principal conductor of the Bournmouth Symphony from 2002 to 2008 and presently she is Conductor Emeritus, a great honour for any living conductor.

Other orchestra Alsop is involved with are the Colorado Symphony, where she is the conductor laureate due to her 12 years as Music Director. She is also the guest conductor of the New York Philoarmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra as well as Los Angeles Philharmonic. Among her many major achievements are a Brit classical for Best Female Artist of the year, and the Royal Philharmonic Society's Conductor's Award and she was also honoured by being inducted as a Fellow to the American Academy of Arts and Science.

The narrator

There is a narrator prelude to Alsop taking over the baton on stage. He is David Morrissey who narrates the important aspects of the science fiction. Morrissey has starred alongside David Tenent in 2008 Doctor Who Christmas and last year's Nowhere Boy, a film about John Lenon.

With Marin Alsop at the helm, the LPO rose high and mighty to establish its spectacular reputation even further by mixing sounds and creative bits to give the 'feel' of space.

She was simply brilliant and kept the large audience on this powerful atomic journey as she sped us through with metallic sounds once in a while. The meticulous playing drifted through various movements doing Philip Glass proud of his score of over 45 minutes.



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