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Wonder - A Scientific Oratorio

Crab Nebula
The Crab Nebula - remnant of a star that was seen to explode in the year 1054.
Click for higher resolution image.
Credit: ESO

In 2009 we celebrate the International Year of Astronomy, the 40th anniversary of the Moon Landings and the 200th anniversary of the death of Haydn (the composer of the world famous oratorio "The Creation"). To mark these significant events, the BBC has commissioned Salford based composer Alan Edward Williams (Reader in Music at Salford University) to write a 21st century vocal work that reflects our present understanding and scientific knowledge of the formation and evolution of the universe. Following extensive research in astrophysics and cosmology, Alan and his librettist, Philip Goulding, have created a large-scale, multi-media vocal work that offers a fitting and timely companion piece to the celebrated Haydn oratorio.

The seven themes

Working in partnership with Jodrell Bank astrophysicist Tim O'Brien, Alan has divided his new work into seven clear sections, each describing a specific stage in the evolution of the universe.

  1. The Big Bang
  2. The creation of the light elements
  3. The fading glow of the Big Bang
  4. The birth of stars
  5. The death of stars
  6. The birth of planets
  7. Earth: the cradle of life

This collaboration was initiated and implemented by Martin Maris (project manager for the BBC Philharmonic) and Teresa Anderson (Director of the Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre).