Pause, Wonder, and Feel the Awe

Since 1798 The Creation by Haydn has inspired awe. It tells the bible’s version of the creation story. Could we have a comparable artistic work based on the stories science now tells about the origins of the universe, our natural world, and us? That, surely, could inspire awe?

My highly distinguished colleague at La Trobe, Jenny Graves, geneticist and avid chorister, has teamed up with poet Leigh Hay and composer Nicholas Buc to create a new oratorio intended to do just that. Jenny tells the back story here. She writes “As both a scientist and a chorister, I have waited for decades for someone to write a new oratorio that tells of the origin of the Universe, of life, of species, and of humanity, based on science.” Now they have done just that.

La Trobe’s announcement is here. The first performance will be in Melbourne on 18 July, during the International Congress of Genetics. Expect a 90 minute performance,100-voice choir, 60-piece orchestra, and four soloists. It looks sure to be a full house at the wonderful Elisabeth Murdoch Hall, although there are still some tickets left, here.

We all work endlessly doing science, or trying to nudge science towards better statistics, better research practices. We should, just occasionally, take time to pause, wonder, and feel the awe (maybe also some terror) at what science has so far told us.

Lindy and I will be there on 18 July. I can’t wait.


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