for orchestra (instrumentation custom-tailored for the Richmond Youth Symphony Orchestra and can be adapted)
[Pic, 3 Flutes, 3 Oboes, 3 Clarinets in Bb, 2 Bassoons, 3 Horns in F, 3 Trumpets in C, 2 Trombones, 1 Bass Trombone, Tuba, Percussion (divided by 3 players), Harp, Piano, Strings]
(companion piece to “Schrödinger’s Cat” for youth string orchestra)
“The WOW! Signal”
Combines orchestra for Schrödinger’s Cat with larger orchestra of Many-Worlds and adds an electronic track which performers download to their cell phones, MP3 players, boomboxes, etc…
This set of three pieces was written for the Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra program so that their intermediate string orchestra, “Camerata Strings” could perform with their advanced full orchestra, “Richmond Youth Symphony Orchestra.”
“Schrödinger’s Cat” (for youth string orchestra) is a scientific thought-experiment which raises the question of parallel universes. As in the experiment, the music depicts a cat in a box alternating between two possible worlds of life and death. The musicians and audience finally realize that we live in the world where the cat is alive!
“Many-Worlds” (for full orchestra) refers to the mathematical formula originally created by the scientist Hugh Everett which “implies that all possible alternative histories and futures are real – each one having its own world or Universe.” In a musical sense this is quite true because while the orchestration and duration of each note is very different, the same musical structure and pitches from “Schrödinger’s Cat” were used to create “Many-Worlds.”
“The WOW! Signal” (for youth string orchestra, full orchestra, and electronic playback) was a strong radio signal detected by Dr. Jerry R. Ehman on August 15, 1977 while working on a SETI project at the Big Ear radio telescope of The Ohio State University. Amazed at how closely the signal matched the expected signature of an interstellar signal in the antenna used, Ehman circled the signal on the computer printout and wrote the comment “Wow!” on its side. This comment became the name of the signal” …and now, the name of our musical work! In “The Wow! Signal,” members of the full orchestra perform “Many-Worlds” while members of the youth strings perform “Schrödinger’s Cat.” Simultaneously, electronic signals are sent throughout the orchestra using IPods, cell phones, and small radios which emulate strange and undetectable sounds. Special thanks to David Fisk, Erin Freeman, Aimee Halbruner, and Megan Osborn for supporting the Composer-in-Residence position with the Richmond Symphony’s Education and Community Engagement Department which allowed for this interaction of young performers, new works, and a living composer.