By Joseph D’Andrea
On March 23, the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City hosted their annual Music and Astronomy Night during which Adelphi students performed both rehearsed original songs and improvised pieces in the museum’s planetarium.
Adelphi has collaborated with the museum for this event over the past eight years. Music and Astronomy Night pairs eight short astronomy-based movies with live music performed by Adelphi students. Kerri Kiker, the museum’s planetarium education coordinator, said it’s a chance for the museum to show off the “incredible visuals of the planetarium and for Adelphi to showcase the incredible talent of their students.”
She added: “Music and Astronomy is my favorite event. Every year, the students from Adelphi choose music to highlight and express the themes of the movies created. I am amazed at the work they put in and the way the movies take on a whole new life when the music is added.”
This year’s ensemble included Martin Barron (guitar/percussion), Brooke Beck (voice), Mary Brophy (voice), Melissa Casey (voice), Momi Perkins (voice/percussion), Sabrina Ramirez (voice/percussion), and Tyler Wilkens (guitar/percussion). Also taking part in the performance was Sidney Marquez Boquiren, the chair of Adelphi’s Music Department and the director of Improvisation Ensemble.
“I love the opportunity to improvise music to go along with the film,” Boquiren said, “and to have an audience to appreciate and enjoy the interaction of the two. I also very much enjoyed just sitting back and listening to members of the Improvisation Ensemble perform. [This event was unique because it] is the only collaboration we do as a department that involves the interaction of music and film—and performed in a planetarium! It is always such a fun event!”
“I also have to mention the huge contribution of Sidney Boquiren,” Kiker said. “He is the very best partner to have on this event. He is enthusiastic and has a passion for the event. He gives time and support to the students. Sidney is one of the main reasons Music and Astronomy has grown and thrived over the past eight years.”
Barron, a first year and music performance major concentrating in classical guitar, spoke about the experience. “I was playing the maracas during the first half and improvising on various percussion instruments during the second half,” he said. “I think what I enjoyed most about performing at the Cradle of Aviation was having the audience interact with us. I believe everyone in the audience that night was a performer. They were part of our improv ensemble, playing along with us. They reacted to what was shown on the screen just as we did but in their own way. That’s the beauty about it.”
Barron continued: “To be a performer is my ultimate goal. I like to create melodies and write lyrics, and I already have a few things in the works. I just need to find the perfect group to put it all together. A strong part of me believes I have already found them here at Adelphi.”
As the planetarium’s visuals displayed what a solar eclipse looks like from space and on Earth, junior Brophy performed the first song, “Moonlight in Vermont,” along with the other musicians’ backing. “The planetarium took you to another world,” said the music education major, “and it was really exciting performing and improvising to the constantly-changing universe all around us.”
Speaking to the crowd of roughly 100, Kiker noted that next year, Long Island will be very close to the path of the shadow of the moon, known as the path of totality, which will result in a 95 percent solar eclipse.
Singing a cover of “Barro Tal Vez,” by Argentinian composer Luis Alberto Spinetta, and also improvising in the second half of the show with the group, was Perkins, who is studying vocal performance with a concentration in jazz studies and composition.
“My main instrument is voice and my secondary instrument is piano,” Perkins said. “The improv ensemble is not obligatory for me, but I chose to be part of it because I think that as a musician, improvising makes you a better artist and more adaptable. I think that performing in a planetarium is really unique, and all the images behind us made the moment really magical. Also, I personally have a deep connection with space—I wanted to study astrophysics before being a musician—so feeling the energy of the space was incredible.”
Music and Astronomy will be back at the Cradle of Aviation Museum at the beginning of April in 2024 and Improvisation Ensemble (MUO 280) is offered to all students during the spring semester. Reading knowledge of notated music is not required.