For Anne McClain, it’s all about sharing the experience of spaceflight, especially with people in her hometown. This weekend, the astronaut will be onstage at Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox giving that personal dimension as the Spokane Symphony celebrates the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.
Along with her will be José Francisco Salgado, an astronomer who creates Science and Symphony films to accompany some of the works the symphony will perform. McClain is intrigued by Salgado’s work and how he combines science and art.
“I will probably be as excited as the audience to just kind of see what it’s all about,” she said. The program will feature “Clair de Lune” by Claude Debussy; “Un Bal,” a movement from Hector Berlioz’s “Symphonie Fantastique”; and Gustav Holst’s “The Planets.”
In a preconcert talk and introductions before each of the pieces, McClain and Salgado will give context to what concertgoers will see. “The idea is that we’ll kind of intersperse and interweave her experiences … the things that are hard to show, but she can talk about,” said Jeff vom Saal, the symphony’s executive director.
That will be especially true for Salgado’s film “Around the Earth in 90 Minutes,” which features time-lapse photography shot by astronauts aboard the International Space Station set to “Un Bal.” McClain was aboard the station from December to June.
She’ll talk about “what it’s really like to launch off the planet and live in outer space and see our planet from outside the atmosphere. Kind of trying to share that magic with everyone,” she said. One tidbit she shared about her time on the station: Her crew mates got to know just how eclectic her musical tastes are.
“They could float into our little kitchen area, and sometimes I’d be blasting Christian music and sometimes I’d have Enya, and sometimes I’d have classical. I love holiday music, so as soon as I got up on station last year, I was blasting Christmas music,” she said.
McClain is excited to be a part of the symphony’s commemoration of the moon landing (her mother and stepfather are even among the concert’s sponsors). She said it’s the perfect time to be looking back – and forward.
“We’re kind of all hands on deck” for the next lunar mission, she said, which is planned for 2024. “We wouldn’t be able to do what we’re doing today without having done the things that we did in the ’60s and early ’70s,” she said. “Hopefully it inspires a whole new group of people about what we’re doing in space exploration.”
And, as for whether she’ll be part of that moon landing, it’s too early to say, she said. “We don’t assign people too far out, but everybody’s in the running,” she said. “We kind of joke in our office, as soon as you land, you move to the back of the line, but it’s a great line to be in back of.”
“I’m just excited to be as close as we are.”
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