Kronos Quartet perform Sun Rings in Glasgow
Space-themed Terry Riley piece performed outside new Riverside Museum
As London gears up for the Olympics, Scots may feel a million miles away from any sporting events, but culture is another matter. As part of the London 2012 festival celebrations, Glasgow Music is programming what promises to be one of the most spectacular events of the whole shebang. Forget the symbolic Olympic rings and in their place put Sun Rings. In Terry Riley’s music of that name, NASA’s astonishing images of deep space, solar explosions, stars as never seen before and close-ups of planets provide a remarkable video background for the Kronos Quartet’s one-off performance at Glasgow’s Riverside.
Inspired by Riley’s discovery that there is sound in space, and that NASA has recordings to prove it, Sun Rings is the result of his work with Kronos and visual designer Willie Williams. ‘It is amazing,’ says Svend Brown, director of Glasgow Music. ‘NASA has a programme to encourage the arts to demystify what they do and the Kronos were resident there a few years back as part of that. They were the real catalyst for the piece and Riley’s sheer excitement of finding electronic impulse in space and the huge bursts of energy from the sun.’
Bringing to mind Holst’s orchestral suite, The Planets, Riley’s work may be smaller-scale in terms of the forces required – although it similarly does also involve a choir – but the impact is giant-sized. Connecting space through sound and string quartet, the piece is to be performed outside the new Riverside Museum. ‘It will,’ says Brown, ‘be utterly awe-inspiring. With access to NASA’s visual library, the back stage projection is really, really beautiful, often quite abstract with each image wonderfully different. It’s very American – about voyage, exploration and discovery. It’s epic.’
Riverside Museum, Glasgow, Sun 15 Jul