Dark Matter:
a tribute to vera Rubin

(image courtesy of the American Museum of Natural History)

(image courtesy of the American Museum of Natural History)

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A multimedia performance to honor the life and work of astrophysicist Vera Rubin.

Supported by New Music USA: link to project page here with most recent updates

Dark Matter: A Tribute to Vera Rubin is a multimedia project that aims to celebrate and raise the public profile of the late astrophysicist Vera Rubin, a woman whose work ushered in a “Copernican-scale change in cosmic consciousness” (New York Times), through new music composed by three female composers: Angélica Negrón, Alexandra du Bois, and Danielle Eva Schwob.

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An under-recognized figure to the general public yet deeply respected in her field, Vera Rubin is best known for her discovery of dark matter in the universe and championing women in the sciences. She was a mentor for an entire generation of female-identifying scientists, having already paved the way for greater inclusion in observatories and university astrophysics programs.

In addition to highlighting her life and achievements, this project has several broader purposes:

  • To promote the work of women in the fields of science and music

  • To inspire young women to enter the fields of science and music

  • To connect communities across the fields of science and music

Produced by Sarah Carrier and Danielle Schwob, commissioned by The Parhelion Trio, and co-presented with SYZYGY New Music, Dark Matter consists of two parts: an evening-length event at a major planetarium and a touring educational program that combines selections from these pieces along with interactive dialogue.

The project is currently under development in collaboration with the astrophysics department of the American Museum of Natural History. Through presenting music forged with compelling narrative and effective staging by theater artist Michael McQuilken, audiences will be offered a path to understanding the magnitude of Rubin’s work through artwork produced in her spirit.

The music will honor Vera Rubin through programmatic explorations of her life and work through themes that convey her tenacity, warmth, and brilliance. For inspiration, composers will consult Vera Rubin’s memoir “Bright Galaxies, Dark Matter” as well as an unpublished collection of memories and anecdotes. The three composers tasked with realizing this endeavor were selected for their existing works exploring the intersection of music and science and their work’s potential to reach broad audiences.