southern sky

Southern Sky

What happens when Mt Stromlo and Aboriginal mythology collide with an Estonian composer? In the last 1990s Estonian composer/astronomer Urmas Sisask visited Australia to compose Southern Sky based on the southern constellations.

Sisask spent much time at Mt Strolmo Observatory (before it burnt down) and other observatories across Australia whilst also observing many Aboriginal rituals around the country. What resulted was a piece of music for every constellation in the sky with a connection to Aboriginal mythology.

Joined by astronomer Fred Watson, well known from his appearances on ABC Radio, the Griffyn Ensemble will perform the Australian premiere of Southern Sky, a decade after it was written in Australia. This special event will be held at the source of Sisask’s inspiration at Mt Stromlo Observatory and features celestial music, Aboriginal myth, and the story of the stars.

Friday March 30 2012, Mt Stromlo Observatory, Canberra 7:30pm
Saturday March 31 2012, Gasworks Studio Theatre, Melbourne 8pm
Sunday April 1 2012, Discovery Science and Technology Centre, Bendigo 5pm
With special guest, astronomer Fred Watson

Friday November 15 2013, Mt Stromlo Observatory, Canberra 8pm

You can read a blog article about the concert here.

A live performance was recorded for ABC Classic FM for Sunday Live in March, 2013

Fred Watson, Astronomer

A roadtrip with Fred is one of the unique opportunities to have a credible scientific discussion with questions such as “what are the most likely causes for Earth to become extinct through astronomical events”. We first met Fred when we were preparing for the Australian premiere of Urmas Sisask’s Southern Sky, and contacted him to see if he wanted to be involved. As fate had it, Fred was already attempting to get in touch with Urmas (who lives in Estonia), as part of one of his Illuminating Tours (global tours of astronomical significance!). Thus began an incredible special collaboration that we have continued with Fred to explore music and astronomy. Check out Fred’s book ‘Star Craving Mad’, which outlines part of the Sisask story, or check out his website here.

Like most Australians, we first heard Fred over the airwaves as regular contributor to the ABC, as Astronomer in Charge of the Australian Astronomical Observatory at Coonabarabran. Aside from being one of the country’s most trusted science communicators Fred also grew up as a folk singer-songwriter, and we have been lucky enough to hear his unique astronomical folk music a number of times!