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Celestial Journey: Talks, Rare Book Exhibit, and Performance interpret The Universe

Two-day celebration of talks, rare book exhibit and performances paying tribute to composers and astronomers who looked to the heavens to see the world in new ways.

Have you been paying attention to the almost limitless boundaries that we have been penetrating in space? Telescopes are piercing further and further into distant galaxies, uncovering more and more wonders seemingly each and every week. To think about the recent advancements that are being made is mind-boggling, especially when we take a look back in time, when the exploration of space was relatively new.

At the same time, when star-gazers Claudius Ptolemy (AD c100-170), Nicolaus Copernicus (1473 – 1543) and Nicolaus Copernicus (1571 – 1630) made their own discoveries, people’s collective minds were absolutely blown. The discoveries that are being made today are hard to fathom, yet the general public takes the news in strides (almost as if expecting the new discoveries), whereas when the revolutionary astronomers first set their eyes upon the galaxies, every finding was earth-shattering news. 

As a way to pay tribute to the brilliance, and the fortitude, of those early astronomers, a two-day celebration will be held at the Burchfield Penney Art Center, from Thursday, February 7 to Friday, February 8. The event will feature talks, a rare book exhibit, and musical works by composers with astronomical themes performed by A Musical Feast. 

In collaboration with A Musical Feast, the chamber music group (created by retired Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra Concertmaster Charles Haupt), will join the Burchfield Penney Art Center at SUNY Buffalo State to present Celestial Journey.

Local scholars will discuss three one-of-a-kind, first edition books by revolutionary astronomers Ptolemy, Copernicus and Kepler on display; Thursday, February 7 and Friday, February 8, 2019

Day 1 – Thursday, February 7, 2019  

The Milestones of Science Exhibit (on view Tuesday, January 22 – Sunday, February 10, 2019)

The relevance of science can hardly be overstated; it dominates the world in which we live. Discoveries made by  helped us to understand the vast universe in which we live.

In collaboration with the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library (B&ECPL), The Center is honored to display three one-of-a-kind, first edition books by these revolutionary astronomers as part of the Milestones of Science, a collection of rare books by world famous early scientists that form a veritable history of science.  

Acquired in the late 1930s by the Buffalo Museum of Science, they are now housed by the B&EPCL.  The Almagest (Ptolemy, 2nd Century AD), De revolutionibus (Copernicus, 1543) and Harmonices Mundi (Kepler 1619) will be on view Tuesday, January 22 thru Sunday, February 10, 2019.

The display will mark three milestones–the 546th birthday of Polish-born Renaissance scientist, Nicolaus Copernicus (b. February 19, 1473), 400th anniversary of the release of Johannes Kepler’s Harmonices Mundi (1619) and the first time the B&ECPL has shown all three works together.

Free with museum admission

Panel Discussion – 6:30 PM –  Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Auditorium:

Dr. Peter Reczek will moderate a panel of four scholars that will explore the impact these great books had on all aspects of our growing civilization.

The publication of De revolutionibus created a scientific revolution that continues to this day. Copernicus’ wide-ranging influence was not solely scientific, but inspired profound changes in culture, philosophy and religion. The panelists are:

Rance Solomon, Astronomer, Department of Physics, University at Buffalo

Solomon will discuss the scientific aspects of Copernicus’ great discovery, its significance to scientists that followed and their view of the structure of the universe.

Dr. Martin F. Ederer, Historian, Department of History and Social Studies Education, SUNY Buffalo State

What was life like in the Europe (and the Poland) of Copernicus? How may have these conditions influenced Copernicus’ work and its reception? Ederer will share his insights on an era that ushered in many complicated religious, intellectual and cultural changes.  

Dr. Julie Kirsch, Philosopher / Theologian, Department of Philosophy, D’Youville College

Kirsch will talk about the philosophical and religious consequences of the sun-centered view of the universe and how a simple change in perspective had profound effects on the church and science.  

Amy Pickard, Rare Book Curator and Librarian, Buffalo and Erie County Public Library.

Pickard will discuss how De Revolutionibus and the Milestones of Science collection came to be in Buffalo and some of the challenges of collecting and maintaining one of the premier rare book collections in the world.

Dr. Peter R. Reczek, moderator

Dr. Reczek is a biotechnology entrepreneur and consultant. He received his Ph.D. in Biophysics from the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center where he worked as a faculty member in the Biophysics Department as well as serving as the founding director of the Technology Transfer Office and the Office for Research Subjects Protection.  

Free with museum admission

Day 2 – Friday, February 8, 2019 – Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Auditorium

Throughout time, composers have looked to the stars, sun and moon for inspiration, exploring the universe with their music. A Musical Feast, the chamber music group created by retired Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra Concertmaster Charles Haupt, perform works with astronomical themes. His wife, Irene Haupt, serves as Executive Director.

General admission $20; Burchfield Penney members $10. For tickets, call 716 876-6011.


Roland Martin and Dr. Peter Reczek will discuss the relationship of early astronomical discoveries to the metaphysics of music and highlight composers who took inspiration from the cosmic vision of Ptolemy, Copernicus, Kepler and Newton.


Surge Virgo | Isabella Leonarda (1620-1704}

Roland Martin harpsichord, Tiffany DuMouchelle soprano

The Freudig Singers of Western New York              

Song to the Moon {Rusalka) Antonin Dvorak {1941-1904)

Roland  Martin piano,  Tiffany DuMouchelle, soprano                           

nun ist aber der einzelne Ton beziehungslos ( 2019) Ruth Wiesenfeld

the single tone however is unrelated

Warner Iversen, solo theorbo.

Commissioned by Paul Simini:

For astronomer Johannes Kepler the heavenly motions were, “nothing but a continuous song for several
voices, perceived not by the ear, but by the intellect,” as he noted in book Harmonia Mundi.  He found that the angular velocities of planets closely correspond to musical intervals. When he compared the extremes for combined pairs of planets, the results yielded the intervals of a complete scale.

Commissioned by Paul Simini to incorporate the ideas of Kepler’s outstanding mind into a piece of music I was intrigued by the obsessiveness with which Kepler pursued the force of his vision even in the face of repeated failures and personal tragedies. Thus, rather than his musical theories I will put Kepler’s restless quest for the discovery of the divine plan of creation into the focus of my musical work.

The piece will come into being in close collaboration with lutenist Warner Iversen. He will immerse himself in the proportions, relations and vibrationary patterns of the single intervals, unearthing their complexities and particularities. His performance will resemble the journey through an acoustic universe full of meaning, strange correspondences and grand harmonies.


Unless Acted Upon (2011) Caroline Mallonee

Eric Huebner (piano), Jonathan Golove (cello), Barry Crawford (flute), Kathrein Allenberg (violin), Andrew Seigel (bass clarinet)

Unless Acted Upon is a sound representation of Newton’s First Law of Motion: A body at rest tends to stay at rest unless acted upon by an external, unbalanced force. A body in motion tends to stay in motion unless acted upon by an external, unbalanced force.

This piece explores several ways in which forces can affect a body in motion: friction slows a moving object, gravity makes something fall, pushing makes objects go faster, bouncing objects bounce, and a magnetic force draws objects together. The first section, Newton’s Cradle, serves as a prelude. A Newton’s Cradle consists of an odd number of spheres; when one ball is pulled backward and released, the ball on the opposite side moves upon impact.

The piece was commissioned by the Walden School for Firebird Ensemble; it has since been played in Carnegie Hall by the Da Capo Chamber Players, by faculty members at the Bennington Chamber Music Conference, by the Guerrilla Composers Guild at the Hot Air Music Festival in San Francisco, and by members of the New York Philharmonic on their CONTACT! New Music Series at National Sawdust.                                   

Toucher (1973) Vinko Globokar (1934)    

Speaking percussionist Steve Solook with projection of text

The Bird of Dawning (Shakespeare: Hamlet act1, scene 1) Roland Martin       

Kathrein Allenberg (violin), Tiffany DuMouchelle (voice), Roland Martin (piano)          

Trio Sonata #1 in G Moderato  Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1710-1736)

Roland Martin (harpsichord), Shannon Steigerwald (violin), Kathrein Allenberg (violin),  Jonathan Golove (cello)

This event is part of February M&T Second Friday at the Burchfield Penney

See Facebook event for details

Written by Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Rising

Sometimes the authors at Buffalo Rising work on collaborative efforts in order to cover various events and stories. These posts can not be attributed to one single author, as it is a combined effort. Often times a formation of a post gets started by one writer and passed along to one or more writers before completion. At times there are author attributions at the end of one of these posts. Other times, “Buffalo Rising” is simply offered up as the creator of the article. In either case, the writing is original to Buffalo Rising.

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