Custer Observatory Hosts Steinway & Stargazing

Members of Blow Up Hollywood will perform at the final concert of the Steinway & Stargazing Series
Members of Blow Up Hollywood will perform at the final concert of the Steinway & Stargazing Series

Learning about astronomy is a great way to understand your tiny place in the universe, but augmented by music, the study of the stars and planets takes on a depth and human scale that greatly furthers our understanding of our inner and outer worlds.

The folks at Custer Observatory in Southold are embarking this summer on “The Music Project,” an arts and humanities program “trusted with nurturing and embracing community diversity and uniqueness, with a special focus on musical and performing arts.”

The observatory is currently fundraising to bring a concert Steinway grand piano to their space, with a series of innovative programs throughout the summer titled “Steinway & Stargazing.”

The program is an effort to merge culture, music and science in an educational outreach to the community, said Custer Observatory’s Music Director, Anne Spooner.

“Currently there are no Steinway concert pianos available for public use on the North Fork which our local professional and emerging music stars can access to showcase their talents,” she said. “The Music Project at Custer Observatory is holding The Steinway and Stargazing series in order to add one of these high quality instruments to our facility.”

The observatory’s Music Project, which was conceived in 2008, is designed “to provide firsthand experience of music, songs and dances of other cultures, to explore the inextricable connection between music and science and to offer a glimpse at the stars through the many telescopes on site with assistance from expert staff.”

Steinway & Stargazing kicked off on Saturday, June 30 at 7 p.m., with a concert by the group Chamberosity of music for piano, violin and horn, with works by Eric Ewazen, Peter Winkler and Joseph Holbrooke. The evening of music will be followed by stargazing and hors d’oeuvres from Grace & Grit Catering.

“This critically acclaimed trio has been the ensemble-in-residence at the Stony Brook Summer Music Festival, the Music at Greenlawn concert series and the Siena Spirituality Center in the Hamptons,” said Ms. Spooner. “Chamberosity has commissioned two trios, one from Eric Ewazen and one from Peter Winkler which will be performed as part of the evening’s program.”

Over the years, Chamberosity has organized travel around the globe for students of Protégé International, a traveling summer music festival based on the “work-hard-play-hard-while-creating-lifelong-memories” mantra by which the group’s members have always lived. The group has commissioned two trios, one from Eric Ewazen and one from Peter Winkler which will be performed as part of the evening’s program.

Tickets to the concert are $75 in advance or $95 at the door and are available on Custer Institute & Observatory’s website: custerobservatory.org.

On July 1 at 2 p.m., Steinway & Stargazing will play host to The String Theory Players, Who will perform piano quartet and trio works by Mozart, Mahler and Mendelssohn, followed by mimosas and appetizers and solar observing. Tickets to that concert are $55 in advance and $65 at the door.

The NoFo Trio will perform works by Ravel, Mendelssohn, Lili Boulanger, Vivaldi, Chopin and Scarlatti on July 21 at 7 p.m., followed by a reception with hors d’oeuvres by Grace & Grit Catering and stargazing at nightfall. Tickets to this concert are $75 in advance or $95 at the door

On July 22 at 2 p.m., pianist Ellen Johansen will perform “An Afternoon of Musical Contrasts,” with music by J.S. Bach, Liszt, Chopin, Alban Berg, John Corigliano and Herbert Rothgarber, followed by a reception with mimosas and appetizers and solar observing. Tickets to this concert are $55 in advance or $65 at the door.

The series concludes on Saturday, Aug. 18 at 7 p.m., with Steven Leonard Messina and Thad Debrock of Blow Up Hollywood, an underground rock band whose eclectic sound, built over a decade of recording, incorporates progressive rock, post-rock, experimental, pop, classical, jazz and ambient soundscapes. The musical collective was founded by Steve Messina and Nik Chinboukas in 2001.

This concert will also be followed by a reception with hors d’oeuvres by Grace & Grit Catering and stargazing at nightfall. Tickets are $75 in advance or $95 at the door.

Beth Young

Beth Young has been covering the East End since the 1990s. In her spare time, she runs around the block, tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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