In partnership with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, National Philharmonic (NatPhil) presents a new program that features the world premiere of Cosmic Cycles, A Space Symphony by D.C.-based composer Henry Dehlinger. Dehlinger’s space-themed music will reach audiences across the DMV with performances on Thursday, May 11 at 7:30 p.m. at Capital One Hall and Saturday, May 13 at 8:00 p.m. at the Music Center at Strathmore. Tickets are currently on sale at nationalphilharmonic.org.
“I am very excited for this program, which brings together two of our favorite collaborators: NASA Goddard and my dear friend Henry Dehlinger,” said NatPhil Music Director Piotr Gajewski, who will conduct both concerts. “National Philharmonic has premiered two of Henry’s compositions with great success: The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock in October 2021 and Amore e’l cor gentil sono una cosa in May 2021. We look forward to this third premiere, which we commissioned from him. The extraordinary visuals from NASA Goddard will make the experience even more magical and enveloping for those in attendance.”
Cosmic Cycles, A Space Symphony is a seven-movement symphonic suite that draws inspiration from images captured by NASA’s Hubble and James Webb Space Telescopes and visualizations created by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Each movement carries a programmatic title, alluding to the images, illustrations, and videos which informed the composer’s writing process: 1. The Sun; 2. Earth, Our Home; 3. Earth as Art; 4. The Moon; 5. Planetary Fantasia; 6. The Travelers; and 7. Echoes of the Big Bang. In the upcoming performances, these symphonic poems will be paired with HD projections of the visuals.
Dehlinger shared, “I’m thrilled to have this commission. Cosmic Cycles is a dream project because it bridges the gap between art and science. Together with two of D.C.’s biggest stars—NASA and NatPhil—we’re taking the audience on an exploration of the universe through an immersive experience that combines symphonic music and visual storytelling.”
Like with Dehlinger, NatPhil’s partnership with NASA Goddard has developed over the past seasons. Their most recent collaboration, Holst’s The Planets in February 2022, was also presented at Capital One Hall and Strathmore. Other projects included Journey Through Space with NASA in 2021 and Cosmic Designs in 2018. These programs centered imagery around existing compositions; the upcoming program, however, flips that around as Dehlinger’s Cosmic Cycles, A Space Symphony was created to existing images from space.
On May 11 and 13, NatPhil and NASA Goddard will also host educational and engagement pre-concert activities in the lobbies of Capital One Hall and Strathmore. These offerings include a lecture from a real-life NASA astronaut, “ask as scientist” booths corresponding to movements in Dehlinger’s new symphonic suite, and a touchable lunar rock.