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"Beyond the Heliosphere" for classical guitar and electronics (world premiere)

  • Frieman Hall, Perez Building Room 121, 50 University, University of Ottawa Ottawa, Ontario Canada (map)

Classical guitarist Daniel Ramjattan will premiere “Beyond the Heliosphere” by Alex Eddington - alongside many other Canadian performers and pieces old - on the Canadian Music Marathon at the 2019 21st Century Guitar Conference in Ottawa.

This piece shares inspiration and material with another piece receiving its premiere in August: A Letter From a Small Distant Planet for choir, with a text by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter from the 1977 NASA Voyager launch.

Program Notes (July 2019)

The two Voyager spacecraft were launched in the 1970s, and recently began to exit our solar system. Their transmitted data from the zones at the edge of the heliosphere have been surprising; rather than a gradual diminishing of solar wind, there have been some abrupt state changes. It will take thousands for years for the Voyagers to truly leave our region of the Milky Way Galaxy by passing through the Oort Cloud.

The movements/sections of Beyond the Heliosphere are named after the various transitional zones that form the edges of our sun’s system. On board the Voyager probes are the “Golden Record” – a recording of music, sounds and images from earth. Among this music are three pieces by J.S. Bach, including a movement from a violin Partita – transcriptions of which are staples of Classical guitar repertoire.

All of the guitar music in my piece is derived from Bach partita transcriptions, filtered and scrambled like a transmission passing through an unimaginable expanse of solar wind. You will also hear the morse code phrase “per aspera ad astra” (“through hardship to the stars”) which is etched on the Golden Record.

Beyond the Heliosphere is a companion piece to my recent choral/vocal work A Present From a Small Distant World, and both pieces are the frame and inspiration behind my upcoming album with soprano Kristin Mueller-Heaslip. The electronic textures around the guitar soloist are from this piece, whose text is by former US President Jimmy Carter: a greeting to whatever alien beings might find and decode the Golden Record.