Songs of Life & Evolution: A Science Oratorio

I moved from Cambridge MA about two and a half years ago but stay in touch with friends who still reside there. I try to visit my old 'hood a few times a year. Cambridge is right up there with Madison WI as my city to which I'd most like to return. I was not only one of the many biotechies who worked in Cambridge, but also a resident and actively involved in the community, particularly through the public schools. By meeting other parents and kids of diverse backgrounds and interests, my daughter and I stumbled upon North Cambridge Family Opera (NCFO) and got hooked. She sang and I, with my less than spectacular vocal talent, wound up as one of the set decorators.

The NCFO is a pretty cool group of folks and was founded by David Bass, a chemical engineer with a Ph.D. from MIT who followed his love of music as the community opera's director. There are a number of Tech alums who participate in the various NCFO productions, and cast parties with this crew were a blast!

In spite of not being able to readily slap paint on sets due to the distance between Cambridge and Princeton, I remain on the NCFO mailing list so my daughter and I can drive back to Boston and catch the occasional operatic performance. Earlier this week, I received an e-mail notice from the NCFO which seemed Science Blogworthy. In mid-January the NCFO will hold an open rehearsal and registration for a oratorio to be performed at the upcoming (April 21-29) Cambridge Festival of Science, the first such city wide science festival in the United States. Here's a description of the festival from the web site:

Under the umbrella of the Cambridge Science Festival, universities, schools, public library, public television and many other organizations will hold a week of lectures, debates, demonstrations, exhibitions, career expos, plays, poetry readings, and several other major public events in Cambridge, to celebrate the culture and economy of science and technology.

...and a link to a press release, MIT Museum launches Cambridge Science Festival.

The musical piece to be performed by the North Cambridge Family Opera Festival Chorus is entitled Lifetime: Songs of Life and Evolution. The twenty-three songs of the 90 minute performance are written by David Haines. Haines has a strong interest in science and its expression in music:

David is passionate about science and has incorporated scientific themes into many of his works over the years. More recently he has written works explicitly aimed at creating enthusiasm for and interest in science through song.

Several YouTubed selections from Lifetime may be found on the North Cambridge Family Opera site. Click on the "2007 Cambridge Science Festival" link at the top of the page ("Sing in a Family Chorus!!") and then scroll down to find these. I was tickled by Lake. The chorus sings about cichlid speciation in African lakes! Now how cool is that?

Here's the announcement and a link to the pdf of the flyer: Lifetime: Songs of Life and Evolution. I hope to attend the U.S. premier of Haines' Lifetime and check out the other Cambridge Festival of Science activities this April. Maybe Katherine and the SEEDs will give me a press pass!


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Dear Joan

thanks for writing such nice stuff about the Lifetime oratorio! I'm really looking forward to spending several weeks in North Cambridge running workshops and helping with rehearsals. MIT is about as close as anywhere gets to being my Golden City on the Hill - the thought of getting a performance there is something I wouldn't even have dreamt of. Brilliant!

Thanks again - perhaps we'll meet next spring?



Yes, I hope to be in Cambridge for the premier. The concept of the city-wide science festival is appealing, and the oratorio will be a highlight. My daughter and I have fond memories of "The Puzzle Jigs" and definitely dig your style!

- Doc Bushwell

A press pass, eh? Email and remind me; I could look into it for ya.

By Katherine Sharpe (not verified) on 29 Dec 2006 #permalink