Friday, April 16, 2010

SCIENCE AND A SYMPHONY - Artistic Laser Light Show With an Orchestral Performance of “Oscillate”

Over 200 central Texas science teachers and other educators were invited guests at a March 20 multimedia concert by the Waco Symphony Orchestra. The event was one of many LaserFest celebrations being held this year throughout the country to commemorate the 50th year of the laser, which was invented in 1960. The purpose of the LaserFest celebrations is to call attention to the many ways that lasers have enhanced our daily lives—from laser printers and copiers to digital sound reproduction and fiber optics, to mention only a few of the applications that are now commonplace.
The WSO concert featured a new composition by Jon Barrett, a Baylor University graduate student. The composition, titled “Oscillate,” was performed in conjunction with a specially designed laser light show.
Barrett’s piece was a natural match for a laser light show. Barrett composed it as a musical reflection of what he called the “never-ending ballet of patterns, interconnected and interdependent with one another, large and small.” “Our cells are born from our parents’ cells,” he noted, “and through division give rise to more cells until finally dying. Our lungs respire through a pattern of inhalation and exhalation. Our heart pumps blood through our bodies, circulating oxygen to our cells. Electrical charges constantly course throughout our nervous systems, giving us control of our bodies and a sense of the world and, ultimately, the Cosmos.” “Oscillate,” which won Baylor’s 2009 Symphony Overture Competition, is also a study in the juxtaposition of opposites—loud and soft, high and low, light and dark, fast and slow, transparent and opaque textures, serious and comical tones, and art and popular musical styles.

The laser light show, which was custom-designed as a visual interpretation of Barrett’s music, was provided by Prismatic Magic, a nationally known laser light show company. Prismatic Magic’s president, Dr. Chris Volpe, is a physicist with a specialization in optics and lasers.

Prior to the concert, OP-TEC, Texas State Technical College, Baylor University, and the City of Waco jointly hosted the guest teachers at a reception in Baylor’s new science building.

Over 100 pictures of the laser light show, as well as a 10-minute audio-video recording of the performance, can be seen on the OP-TEC website,