The first multidimensional view into space paired with a live performance – opening the world of Virtual Reality to 6k people for free.
About this project
On August 6th, as a part of the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival at the Prospect Park Bandshell, we’re premiering The Hubble Cantata, the first free live event to fuse a major musical performance—featuring a 20-piece ensemble, a 100 person choir, and two Metropolitan Opera stars—with a Virtual Reality experience amidst a 360-degree sound installation.
This means that 6,000 people will have a personal encounter with the Hubble Telescope while experiencing a sonically-communal, immersive musical performance—all for free.
The project is currently being developed at New Inc (the artistic incubator of the New Museum) as a collaboration between composer Paola Prestini, librettist Royce Vavrek, filmmaker Eliza McNitt, and internationally-known astrophysicist Mario Livio, who worked on the Hubble for 24 years. We have partnered with Arup, the global leader in acoustical engineering, and The Endless Collective who helped create the award-winning visual effects for GRAVITY and Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s COSMOS. For the musical performance, we’ve enlisted a world-class collection of musicians: Norwegian string ensemble 1B1, members of the chamber ensemble NOVUS NY, the 80-member Washington Chorus, 20-member Brooklyn Youth Chorus, and opera soloists Jessica Rivera and Nathan Gunn, all conducted by Julian Wachner.
Why Should You Support?
The Hubble Cantata will provide an unprecedented immersive public experience to the NYC community by:
- Creating the first multidimensional view of space in VR paired with a live performance.
- Building a live 360-degree soundscape without headphones.
- Acting as a stand alone Virtual Reality experience as a tool for Art, Science, & Education.
- Opening the world of Virtual Reality to the public for free.
For a majority of our audience, this will be the first time they will ever be experiencing Virtual Reality. After our premiere, we plan to release the cutting-edge VR film Fistful of Stars on our dedicated app—giving anyone the opportunity to experience the cosmos. The Hubble Telescope has been such an important part of our understanding of space and the world we live in, and this collaboration between science, technology, and art through different mediums honors that legacy. Please help us bring this project to as many people as possible.
How Does This Work?
This step into the Orion Nebula in VR will be available on a free app to download the week leading up to the event. Once you arrive at the Prospect Park Bandshell on August 6th, you will be a given a cardboard headset to view the VR content. Toward the end of the musical performance, the audience will be prompted to press play and put the cardboard headsets on to begin their journey into the cosmos! No headphones are needed as all of the sound will be coming from the venue’s loudspeakers.
Where Does Your Support Go?
Your support will go directly toward the development of the live production of The Hubble Cantata, including the VR film Fistful of Stars, for its world premiere on Aug 6 and subsequent performances. With so many ambitious components—an evening-length staged musical performance including 120 musicians, a VR film experience, and a 360 soundscape. We have received support from the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Time Warner Inc, BRIC and generous support from partners and private foundations but we need an additional $35K to help cover the remaining project costs to ensure that The Hubble Cantata and Fistful of Stars have a life beyond their upcoming world premiere.
This is a large, ambitious endeavor, and your support through this campaign is the final backing we need to bring this project to life.
About The Team
About Paola Prestini, Composer
Paola Prestini is “the enterprising composer and impresario” (The New York Times) behind the new Brooklyn venue National Sawdust and the ”Visionary-In-Chief” (Time Out NY) of the production company VisionIntoArt (VIA), home to VIA Records. Named one of NPR’s “Top 100 Composers in the World under 40,” her compositions are deemed “radiant… amorously evocative” by The New York Times, and ”luminously involving” by The LA Times. She has been commissioned by Carnegie Hall, the New York Philharmonic, and the Kronos Quartet and works frequently with Creative Producer Beth Morrison to create large scale multimedia works including The Hubble Cantata (a Virtual Reality space operatic experience), and Aging Magician, next at the New Victory Theater on Broadway. New works include Two Oars with Robert Wilson, a new orchestral work for the ACO at Zankel Hall, and The Colorado, an eco-film cantata currently on tour in halls and film festivals.
About Mario Livio, Astrophysicist & Advisor
Dr Mario Livio is an internationally known astrophysicist, best-selling author, and a popular speaker, who has worked for 24 years with the Hubble Space Telescope. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Dr Livio has published more than 400 scientific articles, on topics ranging from cosmology, supernova explosions, and black holes, to extrasolar planets and the emergence of life in the universe. He has received numerous awards and recognitions for his research, including having been selected as the “Carnegie Centenary Professor” by the universities of Scotland in 2003, and as the “Danz Distinguished Lecturer” by the University of Washington in 2006. Dr Livio is also the author of five popular science books. His bestselling book “The Golden Ratio” won him the “Peano Prize” in 2003 and the “International Pythagoras Prize” in 2004, as the best popular book on mathematics. His book “Is God A Mathematician?” inspired the NOVA program “The Great Math Mystery” that aired in 2015, and his most recent book, “Brilliant Blunders,” was selected by The Washington Post as one of the “Notable Books of 2013.” Dr Livio appears frequently in the media. He appeared on “The Daily Show,” on “60 Minutes” (twice), on two NOVA programs in 2015 alone, and on numerous radio programs (e.g. “Science Friday,” “All Things Considered,” “On Being,” “Studio 360,” and more).
During the past two decades he has given many dozens of talks all across the globe, at venues ranging from the Smithsonian in Washington DC and the Hayden Planetarium in New York, to the Royal Astronomical Society in London, the Berlin Planetarium, TEDxMidAtlantic in Washington DC, and the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. He is a regular speaker at the World Science Festival in New York, and was selected three times as one of the “Nifty Fifty” scientists by the USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington DC. He is also the “Science Advisor” to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and has presented in a number of their concerts. He has collaborated with composers Paola Prestini and Russell Steinberg in the creation of two contemporary classical music pieces that are inspired by Hubble imagery.
About Eliza McNitt, VR Director
Eliza McNitt found filmmaking through science. A top winner of the Intel Science Fair for her research on Honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder, Eliza’s first film Requiem for the Honeybee followed the mystery of vanishing honeybees and was broadcast internationally on C-Span. Her unique voice as a director fusing science with narrative storytelling has been supported by The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Global Dialogues, TED, and Google. At NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Eliza was the winner of an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Production Grant for her film Without Fire which was filmed on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona, starring the late Misty Upham (Frozen River, August: Osage County). Eliza then developed a comedic series with Google to empower women to learn to code. She is currently creating a Virtual Reality experience following the journey of The Hubble Telescope through space in collaboration with National Sawdust.
About Royce Vavrek, Librettist
Royce Vavrek is an Alberta-born, Brooklyn-based writer of opera, musical theater, and concert works. His notable lyrics/libretti include Dog Days (Peak Performances @ Montclair/Beth Morrison Projects/Fort Worth Opera/LA Opera/Prototype Festival), Am I Born (Brooklyn Philharmonic/Brooklyn Youth Chorus), and Vinkensport, or the Finch Opera (Bard Conservatory/New York City Opera VOX) with David T. Little; 27 (Opera Theatre of Saint Louis) with Ricky Ian Gordon; Song from the Uproar (Beth Morrison Projects/The Kitchen/ LA Opera) with Missy Mazzoli; Angel’s Bone (Prototype Festival) with Du Yun; O Columbia (HGOco) with Gregory Spears; Strip Mall (Los Angeles Philharmonic) with Matt Marks; The Hubble Cantata (Bay Chamber Concerts/ VisionIntoArt) with Paola Prestini; and Maren of Vardø (Vulcan Lyric) with Jeff Myers. Upcoming projects include JFK with David T. Little for Fort Worth Opera/American Lyric Theater/Opéra de Montréal; Midwestern Gothic with Joshua Schmidt for Signature Theatre, Virginia; The House Without a Christmas Tree with Ricky Ian Gordon for Houston Grand Opera; Stoned Prince with Hannah Lash for American Opera Projects, and Breaking the Waves, an adaptation of the film by Lars von Trier, with Missy Mazzoli for Opera Philadelphia/Beth Morrison Projects. Royce is Co-Artistic Director with soprano Lauren Worsham of the opera-theater company The Coterie, and an alumnus of the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema at Concordia University (Montreal), the Graduate Musical Theater Writing Program at NYU, and American Lyric Theater’s Composer Librettist Development Program.
About The Endless Collective, Visual Effects
A tight team of award-winning game developers and VFX artists currently developing interactive augmented and virtual reality content for multi-platform delivery. With a pool of talent that spans decades creating stunning visual effects for the Feature Film industry (credits incl. Gravity, Inception, Batman Returns) we are currently focusing on the development of augmented and virtual reality interactions and applications. Specializing in all aspects of immersive technologies for commercial markets whilst guiding these tools towards improving and redefining the healthcare + education, environmental, architectural, medical and recreational therapy industries.
About Arup, Sound Design
Arup is a multi-disciplinary design practice known globally for creating iconic and aspirational buildings for the Performing Arts. From the Sydney Opera House, to Lincoln Center, and National Sawdust, Arup’s creative culture and cutting-edge thinking make them the collaborative designer of choice for clients around the world to create iconic and inspiring places for audiences and performers. In addition to their work in the built environment, they are also known for collaborations with artists across a wide range of media from sculpture, to light, and sound. Their creative 3D sound spatialization tools have allowed the development of new musical works blending science and technology, working with artists as diverse as Ai Wei Wei, Anish Kapoor, James Turrell, Janet Echleman, Lou Reed, Nick Cave, Philip Glass, Scott Walker, and William Kentridge. For National Sawdust, Arup provided thought leadership and design services in Acoustics, Audio-Visual, Theatre, Lighting, Information Technology, Lighting, Fire and Code Consulting.
About VisionIntoArt/National Sawdust, Producer
A brand new critically acclaimed performance space, recording studio, & nonprofit organization named “the new Carnegie Hall” (NY Mag) on North 6th & Wythe in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The building is an acoustically-driven, geometrically complex chamber hall within an existing, graffitied, one hundred year old post-industrial shell of a former sawdust factory.
Over the past few months we have produced special performances with James Murphy, John Zorn, Terrace Martin, Philip Glass, Laurie Anderson, Richard Reed Perry, Terry Riley, Nico Muhly, Kyp Malone, Chris Thile, Chairlift, Majical Cloudz, The New York Philharmonic, Kristin Lee, Alessio Bax, Cibo Matto, Nels Cline, Imogene Strauss, Glenn Kotche, Carnegie Hall, yMusic, Richard Eyre, Kelsey Lu, Helga Davis, Jeffrey Zeigler, Bryce Dessner, Kimbra, Punch Brothers, Patti Smith, We in Cloudz, Dave Harrington, Marina Abramovic, Meredith Monk, and more.
About BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival, Presenting Organization
BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival is one of New York City’s longest running, free, outdoor performing arts festivals. Launched in 1979 by the then Fund for the Borough of Brooklyn, as a catalyst for Brooklyn’s performing arts scene and to bring people back into Prospect Park after years of neglect, Celebrate Brooklyn was an anchor in the park’s revitalization and has become one of the city’s foremost summer cultural attractions. Over the course of its history, the Festival has presented over 2,000 artists and ensembles reflective of the borough’s diversity, ranging from internationally acclaimed performers to emerging, cutting-edge artists. The festival attracts upwards of 250,000 attendees from across New York City to the Prospect Park Bandshell each summer. The festival is produced by BRIC, an organization that presents contemporary art, performing arts, and media programs throughout Brooklyn.
About Jess Engel, VR Producer
Jess Engel is a NY based Virtual Reality producer at Virtualize where she produces both branded and original VR content. Recent projects include Giant, an immersive VR narrative experience (2016 Sundance Film Festival), Flash of Color, a conceptual VR hypnosis piece (2015 Chart Art Fair, 2015 MUTEK), and Unstitched, a VR fashion video (SXS 2016). Previously, she was the Creative Executive at Electric City Entertainment in Los Angeles. There she worked on critically acclaimed films such as Matt Ross’s CAPTAIN FANTASTIC and Derek Cianfrance’s THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES. She is a 2016 Sundance New Frontier Fellow.
About Beth Morrison Projects, Associate Producer
Founded in 2006, BMP encourages risk-taking, creating a structure for developing new work that is unique to each artist, which gives them the time and space to experiment and push boundaries. Noted as a composers’ producer, ”Beth Morrison, of Beth Morrison Projects, has been gathering strength for several years, producing some of the most exciting music-theatre projects in the city (The New Yorker).” To date, the company has commissioned, developed, and produced more than forty premiere opera and music-theatre works that have been performed around the globe. The New York Times recently said, “The production of new [opera] works in the city still falls mostly to the tireless Beth Morrison and her Beth Morrison Projects…” The Wall Street Journal wrote, “Ms. Morrison may be immortalized one day as a 21st-century Diaghilev, known for her ability to assemble memorable collaborations among artists.”
Rewards Highlight: Vive – Virtual Reality Painting
One of our many exciting rewards is a chance to experience Vive.
Vive is a first-of-its kind virtual reality system developed in partnership by HTC and Valve. Designed from the ground up for room-scale VR, Vive allows true-to-life interactions and immersive experiences thanks to stunning graphics, HD haptic feedback (hand controllers) and 360˚ motion tracking.
For a $5k donation, five lucky sponsors get:
– We will set up a HTC Vive demo at a time of your choosing within a specific timeframe.
– You are invited to come to our office and you’ll be able to spend about 30min in the state-of-the-art headset.
– We’ll be there to guide you and explain how the room scale VR works.
– You’ll get to choose from about 3-5 experiences to sample during your session.
Risks and challenges
The Hubble Cantata is the largest VR communal viewing of VR to date! Couple this with the fact that this will be a free, live public event—this means we have many challenges and hurdles we’re up against.
Giving 6,000 people the resources and tools to download & experience virtual reality is no easy feat. On the technology end, we have to build a functioning app for iOS and Android to ensure the content plays on everyone’s phone. We’ve assembled an all-star team of technologists, developers, producers, and creators, to ensure that the event is as seamless as possible and that everyone who attends has the opportunity to journey into space in this groundbreaking way.