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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

A tip of the cap to the Final Frontier by the Spokane Symphony

A half-century ago, a powerful message from humanity was broadcast into the solar system with a message about our existence. The Spokane Symphony is celebrating the “Arecibo Message” Saturday and Sunday at the Fox with music that has been performed in or sent into space along with the “Voyager Concerto” by Academy Award-winning composer Dario Marianelli.

“The whole concert is designed around space but in a slightly sideways manner,” Spokane Symphony conductor James Lowe said while calling from Newcastle, England. “It’s something different for us.”

“Watching the Sky and Thinking a Thought,” a Ukrainian folk song sung by a Ukranian cosmonaut, which was the first song sung in orbit, will be performed.

“Russia asked the cosmonaut to sing in space and that’s what was sung,” Lowe said.

Nokuthula Ngwenyama’s “Primal Message,” which is a meditation on communication in the space age, is on the program.

“ ‘Primal Message’ is a powerful message that has been sent into space,” Lowe said. “It’s the first time humanity has tried to reach out to who is out there.”

In 2014, Marianelli wrote, “Voyager Concerto” for violin and orchestra. The 30-minute piece, in one single movement, depicts the journey of the Voyager through the solar system, using as references some of the music that was on board the Golden Record. The recording is comprised of an eclectic collection of revered works, ranging from Chuck Berry to Blind Willie Johnson to Mozart to Beethoven.

The latter is also part of the “Message to the Stars” concert. Beethoven’s Fifth will be performed.

“Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony is one of the most performed symphonies ever,” Lowe said. “It’s always a wonderful experience whenever we perform it, but we wanted to do it in a different context for this special event.”

Violinist Jack Liebeck will join Lowe and the Spokane Symphony.

“We’re excited about having Jack with us as we present this special show,” Lowe said.