Lying back on the plush reclining seats of the Melbourne Planetarium, watching projections of the Northern Lights dance gracefully above me accompanied by the ethereal music of Eriks Esenvalds, I couldn’t help but lose track of both myself and sense of place. At times I was so engrossed in the moment I felt that I too was exploring the northern reaches of the Arctic and not safely tucked inside the Planetarium Chamber. Such was the power and presence of ‘Beneath the Stars’, a special collaborative event held on 6 May by the Melbourne Planetarium and the Melbourne chamber choir, Polyphonic Voices. Attendees were treated to stunning visuals of the night sky and deep space projected onto the Planetarium’s overhead dome whilst listening to an incredible repertoire of classical music (and one highly significant pop song).
The night began with the piece ‘Gloria’ by Jan Sandstrom, emphasising sharp and flawlessly executed soprano and tenor solos against the backdrop of a steady and peaceful choir harmony. A projection of the Melbourne night sky continued to zoom out further and further until, aligning perfectly with the climax of the piece, the sharp edge of the spiral Milky Way was revealed in all its celestial glory.
The event continued for 10 more songs, all distinct yet following the theme of night, the heavens and the stars. I was very impressed by Polyphonic Voices, who performed seamlessly, repositioning themselves around the room for each piece to accentuate different aspects of the music. Each projection seemed to express visually what the music conveyed through sound.
The program concluded, most appropriately, with a tribute to David Bowie. Polyphonic Voices performed a cappella rendition of ‘Space Oddity’ while the dome displayed actual footage of Earth taken from the International Space Station. I felt moved and awed. I couldn’t think of a better way to close what had already been an incredible – or should I say stellar – night.
Dotti (Nicole) Mazga is a law student currently learning how to make the world a better place in Melbourne. When she’s not hitting the books, you can find her consuming any theatre, dance, or space-related event she can get her hands on.
‘Beneath the Stars’ ran for one sold-out night at the Planetarium on May 6. Polyphonic Voices’ next special event, ‘Cabaret!’ is happening at the Melbourne Spiegeltent on Saturday 30 July, with the choice of an afternoon or evening show. Buy tickets now.