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Music of the Spheres at Armagh

Armagh Observatory and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland are hosting a joint press conference at the Armagh Observatory, at 3:00pm on Friday 7 June 2002. This will celebrate a recording of music for the project Ambient Forces, by musicians Alan Niblock and Roy Mitchell. They aim to stretch the limits of musical composition by using the ambience and acoustics of the natural and man-made environments in which the music is created.

The contemporary group includes a double bass and bass clarinet, and will explore the synergy between astronomy and music by recording original pieces in the historic Troughton Telescope Dome at Armagh Observatory, founded in 1790. In addition to the unique resonances of the historic building, the Troughton Dome houses perhaps the oldest telescope in the world still in its original dome. According to Mr T.G.F. Paterson, a former curator of the Armagh County Museum, the daughter, Jane, and friends of the first Astronomer, the Revd James A. Hamilton (1790-1815), always referred to the Dome as "Heaven". This was because "it was a pleasant place where you only met those whom you loved and those whom you wished to meet."

The recording will be marked by a ceremony at the Armagh Observatory, led by Mark Bailey (Armagh Observatory), Roy Mitchell and Alan Niblock (Ambient Forces) and Joe Kelly (Music and Opera Officer, Arts Council).

Sir Patrick Moore, the first Director of Armagh Planetarium, said: "There has always been a link between astronomy and music (remember Herschel), and Armagh has been a centre for both. So it is surely appropriate to have this event in the Observatory. I hope it is the first of many. All success with the Music of the Spheres; I wish I could be there!" Patrick Moore is also renowned for his musical talents both as an instrumentalist and as a composer.

Mark Bailey, Director of the Armagh Observatory said: "Astronomy not only attracts young people towards science and into a scientific way of thinking, it is an Imagination Driver, providing subject material and inspiration for a whole range of fields, including Film, Art, Literature, and not least Music."

Roisín McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council, said: "There is a lengthy and fertile history of convergence between the arts and the sciences, and we are pleased to be able to support such projects as 'Ambient Forces', which extend these relationships into contemporary music practice in Northern Ireland."

Patrick Moore is available for interview, and can be contacted through the Armagh Observatory or by telephone on: 078-8770-1259.

Both the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Armagh Observatory are supported by the Northern Ireland Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure.

See also:

Dome Restoration Project
The Architecture of Armagh Observatory

Last Revised: 2002 June 7th
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