Sacred Awe is an evocative symphonic journey that encapsulates the profound emotions and transformative experiences inspired by the Overview Effect – the awe-inspiring vision of Earth seen as a whole from space, a concept eloquently coined by Frank White.
The Overview Effect, experienced by astronauts during space travel, brings about a cognitive shift of immense significance. This cosmic revelation fosters a deep sense of interconnectedness and empathy, elevating our appreciation for Earth’s fragile beauty and limited resources. It instills a profound desire to protect and preserve our planet while promoting a deeper understanding of the human experience and the importance of compassion.
“Sacred Awe” is the fruit of collaboration between the Central Florida Composers Forum and the Florida Symphony Youth Orchestras , thanks to the vision and work of CF2 President Dr. Charles Griffin and Music Director Dr. James Welsch.
What might a composers’ group and a youth symphony give to each other? The older CF2 composer mentors musicians in the FSYO who are young composers. My mentee, Alex Hynds, was a cellist while a high schooler in Symphonic Orchestra ensemble, now a freshman at the University of Central Florida. This brilliant young man could just as easily mentor me in computer sciences and 3d animation. He doesn’t seem to know that he’s doing the unheard-of: writing a 17-minute story, animating and rendering it, AND writing the entire score for a full symphonic orchestra! AND he’s creating it at a high level! All of this while pursuing a double major and interning at Limbitless Solutions
Movement 1 – “Build and Launch”
This spirited movement pays homage to the brilliance of spacecraft engineering and the dedicated individuals who devote their lives to its pursuit. Commencing at 3:11 in this mock-up recording (below), an ever-rising melody emerges from the basses and low winds, symbolizing the ascent of a manned rocket. As the music soars to its ecstatic apex, the orchestra celebrates this momentous achievement with a triumphant cadence highlighted by bold brass flourishes.
Movement 2 – “Weightless”
A brief yet introspective interlude, “Weightless” is a Deep Listening® piece that reflects the disorienting experience of space travel. Each musician is encouraged to envision a star and express it through unique and ethereal sounds, transcending the confines of tonality and gravity. The result is a shimmering tapestry of glistening tones, immersing the audience in the boundless cosmos.
Movement 3 – “The Earth!”
In this grand finale, the music captures the overwhelming moment of witnessing our planet from the perspective of space, embracing the transformative power of the Overview Effect. The tempo and key of this movement, “Earth!” is adapted to match the present Schumann Resonance, a natural magnetic field oscillation covering our planet since life began. When the SR is strong, our HRV (heart rate variability) goes up, fostering integration between mind, heart, and body and creating feelings of well-being. “Earth!” will bring these healthy effects to the orchestra and audience by matching the present SR frequency with the music. The bass drum will quietly play it throughout, creating a solid presence. The basses and a low-frequency synthesizer will play the successive octaves as a constant pedal tone. Up to the highest piccolo note, the entire key of the orchestra is in tune with the SR, promoting feelings of solidity, presence, and well-being, and, by listening, everyone’s brain transforms the acoustic energy into electromagnetic energy (called ‘entrainment’). Musical listening integrates different parts of us that often drift apart: mind, imagination, awareness, body, and spirit. The magnetic fields created by everyone’s hearts will further amplify the Schumann Resonance frequency, bringing everyone into synchronization (common in musical performances, sporting events, etc.). The music envelops the listeners, inviting them to bask in Earth’s majestic splendor and fostering a profound connection to the present moment.
This version of “Earth!” in E Major, will be played if the Schuman Resonance is between 7.51Hz and 7.95 Hz. The tempo also depends on the SR, spanning from 113bpm to 119 bpm in this range.
“Sacred Awe” aims to transport the audience on a transformative voyage, leaving them with a renewed sense of grounding, contentment, and a deep appreciation for the delicate beauty of our planet. Through the universal language of music, this symphonic work seeks to evoke empathy and inspire a collective commitment to safeguarding our shared home – Earth.