Art, Music & Astronomy: Special Event at the CRAG This Week

In the spirit of artist Fiona Annis’s multidisciplinary interests in photography and astronomy, the CRAG is hosting a special event of classical music in the gallery this Thursday, August 22nd from 2 to 4 pm. An immersive acoustic performance will be a natural extension of our current contemplative, mysterious and enthralling exhibition, Fiona Annis: a portion of that which was once everything

The CRAG is pleased to present an afternoon of music in the gallery with Helena Jung, renowned soloist, chamber, and orchestral cello musician. Helena has had a diverse career as a soloist, chamber and orchestral musician, and teacher in Vancouver Island, B.C. She vigorously pursues an eclectic repertoire, having performed with many well-known pianists such as Sarah Hagen, Glen Montgomery and Carter Johnson, as well as with the Vancouver Island Symphony since 2005.  Helena received her BMus and MMus in Seoul, Korea, and has performed with the Jeunesses Musical World Orchestra as a member and the Seoul Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Gyeonggi Provincial Philharmonic Orchestra as a principal.  

As of 2018, Helena Jung is the Music Director and Conductor of the Strathcona Symphony Orchestra. At the pinnacle of her career, Helena is exhilarated to lead the SSO to unprecedented feats enrich the Valley with music unlike any other. Her passion for music can be heard in her work and always leaves concertgoers eager for more.  

She will also be joined by other musical guests for the second half of the performance. This intimate session will reflect the depth and resonance of this exhibition and showcase local talent.


As we have been exploring during the run of this exhibit, astronomy and photography have been intertwined for centuries. What may be less obvious is the ancient link between astronomy and music. Time, sound and light are all mysterious forces of the universe that have evoked a poetic sensibility throughout history. 

By looking out into the universe, we are essentially seeing the past, due to the time it takes for light to cross vast expanses to reach our eyes. Photographs capture a moment in the present to be viewed in the future. Similarly, music has the ability to transport us back in time. 

Ebenezer Sibly. “Harmony of the Worlds” in A New and Complete Illustration of the Occult Sciences. London, 1806.

Scholars and musicians have studied and searched for an explanation of the connection between music and astronomy for millennia. Ancient Greek philosophers believed in the harmony of the spheres, the theory that the planets moved in a rhythm, based on Earth at the orbital centre, that could be transposed to musical notes using mathematical principles. In 1619, astronomer Johannes Kepler published Harmonices Mundi (Harmony of the Worlds), posited that the planets produced an inaudible harmony that coincided with pleasing musical intervals and could be felt by the soul if not heard consciously. Astronomy and music were considered important intellectual endeavours, both included in the medieval curriculum called the Quadrivium, which included arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy. 18th-century composer Joseph Haydn is said to have consulted with William Herschel, discoverer of Uranus and himself an oboe player, in the conception of his choral and orchestral composition “The Creation.”

Countless space-themed genres, song titles and lyrics have (think Across the Universe by The Beatles or 60s psychedelic space rock) have been spawned by the continuous modern fascination with astronomy. Several musicians have also used sounds from outer space as material in their works. Objects and energy sources produce signals that can be received and processed by radio transmitters. The California-based Kronos Quartet has been performing the composition “Sun Rings” since 2002, which includes such sounds collected over decades by University of Iowa researchers. Check out some of their sweet space sounds here. To get a taste of Thursday’s performance, here is an extensive playlist of space-themed classical music. 

We hope you can join us on Thursday for this special performance. If you can’t make it, pop by any time before September 4th to enjoy Fiona Annis’s work.