if you go Event: Ensemble Galilei: First Person Seeing America Time/date: 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 3; free 1 p.m. pre-show lecture Site: John and Alice Butler Hall, Heritage Center, University of Dubuque Cost: $25-$29 adults, $15 children/students; Farber Box Office, noon- 5:30 p.m. Monday-Friday or 90 minutes prior to show; 563-585-SHOW or www.dbq.edu/heritagecenter. synopsis With images by some of America's finest photographers and the poetry and prose of some of America's greatest writers, the multimedia program takes audiences on a journey combining the spoken word, music and projected imagery. Ensemble Galilei blends Irish, Scottish, early and original music, mixing the colors and styles of early instruments with Celtic traditions. tidbits - The project uses the photographic collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, including work by Walker Evans, Edward Curtis, Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand, Weegee and Thomas Eakins. - It uses the words of Langston Hughes, Carson McCullers, Damon Runyan, John Muir, Frederick Douglass and others. - The soundtrack includes Bach, traditional music from Scotland and Ireland, as well as new compositions featuring fiddles, harp, viola da gamba, percussion, whistles and oboe. - This performance is supported by the Arts Midwest Touring Fund, a program of Arts Midwest, which is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts with additional contributions from the Iowa Arts Council.The key to Ensemble Galilei's name is in the year it was founded - 1990, the year the Hubble Telescope was launched.
"The Hubble changed the way we looked at things, just like in Galileo's time," said Carolyn Surrick, one of the group's founding musicians.
Ensemble Galilei will bring its multi-media show, "First Person Seeing America," to the University of Dubuque's Heritage Center, on Sunday, Nov. 3.
The ensemble was named after the scientist Galileo's father, Vincenzo Galilei, who was a music composer and theorist.
"He and his buddies thought there was not enough passion in music," Surrick said in a phone interview. "They thought the Renaissance had gone on too long. They radically changed the nature of music."
She said she and several other musicians wanted to play "with an intensity that was lacking in our lives."
Her instrument is the viola da gamba, a seven-string instrument more related to the guitar than the violin.
Other members of the ensemble perform on the fiddle, the viola, recorders, whistle, oboe and Celtic harp, as well as percussion.
The ensemble includes six musicians and two actors, including Lily Knight and NPR's Neal Conan.
The group isn't based in any one city. Surrick lives in Annapolis, Md. Others live in Chicago, Seattle and Los Angeles.
"The musicians on stage are some of the finest," she said. "Jackie Moran (percussion) has been in movies. Sue Richards is a national champion harper. There are the words of Chief Seattle with the images of Edward Curtis - what a treasure trove. There are the works of Walker Evans and Dorothea Lange, with music written for those images.
"It's all from a person's perspective. We went to the strengths of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (in New York City). It speaks to the West, slavery and the Civil War, children and coming of age and about the Great Depression," she said.
She described the show as a melding of art forms.
"There's iconic, fabulous black-and-white photos, and the music has its own soufulness. It fills the house with what is going on ... I don't think anyone leaves unmoved."
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