Grisey's Le Noir de l'Etoile
Friday, May 25, 2012
In 1967, a young astronomer detected in the heavens a rapidly varying radio signal, in the form of periodic impulses 1.3 seconds apart. The discovery caused a sensation. The impulses were so regular that for a while they were taken to be signals coming from extraterrestrial civilisations. Then astrophysicists revealed a truth that was just as surprising: the signals were being emitted by a pulsar, the fantastic compact residue created by the supernova explosions that long ago disintegrated the massive stars.
— Jean-Pierre Luminet, Astrophysicist at the Paris-Meudon Observatory
More than twenty years later, inspired by this discovery and those sounds, the composer Gérard Grisey wrote Le Noir de l’Etoile, for six percussionists placed around an audience. Yellow Barn percussionists Eduardo Leandro and Doug Perkins, joined by astronomer Tom Geballé of the Gemini Observatory in Hilo, HI, lead a week-long workshop dedicated to its preparation, culminating with an outdoor performance of this work at sunset on Yellow Barn’s summer campus at the Greenwood School.