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Date(s) - 09/26/2021
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Cornell University Department of Music presents the Whale Listening Project Sept. 23-26

ITHACA, NY – The Cornell Department of Music presents the Whale Listening Project, a series of events taking place September 23-26 that celebrate the 50th anniversary of the groundbreaking multi-platinum recording Songs of the Humpback Whale and explore the meanings of whale songs through a new sonically immersive installation piece and a collaborative workshop.

In Siren – Listening to Another Species on Earth, composer and performer Annie Lewandowski, artist and coder Kyle McDonald, and set designer Amy Rubin explore humpback whale song in a meeting of intelligences – humpback whale, human, and artificial. Siren celebrates the beauty and conservation legacy of the Songs of the Humpback Whale and will be available for viewing in the Johnson Museum of Art’s Gallery 8 from Sept. 23-26 during normal museum hours of 10:00 am-5:00 pm. The world premiere of Siren took place in late August in Martha’s Vineyard, and the work will be featured at Media Art Xploration’s Neuroverse festival in November and in residency at MASS MoCA in January.

On Thursday, September 23 at 7:00 pm in the Johnson Museum Lecture Hall, Dr. Roger Payne and Katy Payne will present a keynote presentation, “The Ever-Evolving Songs of Humpback Whales,” followed by a Q&A. Dr. Payne, who spearheaded the “Save the Whales” movement, will present the discovery that whales sing and some of the events that revealed the social and political impact on people in several nations. Katy will present some of the Paynes’ findings about the whales’ ever-changing songs, recorded by the Paynes and others over two decades in the North Atlantic and North Pacific oceans. This presentation will also be livestreamed by eCornell. Register here for the online keynote.

Lewandowski and McDonald, along with marine biologists Chris Gabriele and Dr. Adam Frankel, will participate in a panel discussion on “Hawaiian Humpback Whales: Scientific and Creative Perspectives” at 3:00 pm on Friday, September 24 in the Johnson Museum Lecture Hall. eCornell will also livestream this discussion. Register for the online panel.

Finally, Saturday, September 25 will feature “Whale Song: A Workshop” with Katy Payne and vocalist Daniela Gesundheit in which participants will experience the compositional techniques and structures at play in humpback whale song. All singers, all voices are welcome, but space is limited for the 10:30 am workshop in Lincoln Hall room B20 and is first-come, first-served.

“The Whale Listening Project” was made possible through the generous support of the Atkinson Center for Sustainability, the Cornell Council for the Arts, the Milstein Program in Technology and Humanity, Media Art Xploration, the Johnson Museum of Art, and the Department of Music.

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