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'Bella Gaia' returns to Vanderbilt Planetarium

Classically trained violinist Kenji Williams, creator of

Classically trained violinist Kenji Williams, creator of "Bella Gaia," a live performance with orbiting images of Earth from space comes to the Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium on Feb. 20, 2010. Photo Credit: Bella Gaia

See the Earth as astronauts see it in an multimedia photo and video performance, all set to live music on Saturday at The Vanderbilt Planetarium.

The event, "Bella Gaia" (or "Beautiful Earth"), features Kenji Williams -- an award-winning director and classically trained violinist. Williams will perform original music with an orchestra, playing instruments from around the world, in front of a large-screen backdrop with images of Earth from space. The imagery, obtained in collaboration with NASA, includes fires in the Amazon basin and the melting Arctic ice.

Lance Reinheimer, interim director of the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium, says the performance highlights the beauty of the planet.

"It shows the earth from space -- a vantage point that most people aren't able to observe. With the music and the images on the dome, it invokes feelings of being in space," he says. "It's a tranquil feeling."

Attendees will also get a slice of life from other cultures, with images showcasing Japanese temples, Egyptian pyramids and a video from the Laya Project, aimed at preserving regional folk-music traditions from Sri Lanka, Thailand, Indonesia, Myanmar, India and Maldives.

After the performance, the planetarium observatory will be open for live telescope observations of galaxies, nebulas and clusters, weather permitting. Refreshments, including wine and cheese, will be available for purchase.

Get your tickets soon, because this performance drew sold-out audiences last year, Reinheimer says.

So what will people take away from the experience?

"I think an appreciation and better understanding of how we fit in with the whole ecological system of Earth and life and space," he says. "With the music and imagery, I hope people come away with a renewed appreciation of protecting our Earth."

"Bella Gaia"
WHEN/WHERE 8 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Saturday at The Vanderbilt Planetarium, 180 Little Neck Rd., Centerport.
COST $20 (members), $25 (advance purchase for nonmembers), $30 (at the door)
INFO 631-854-5579 or vanderbiltmuseum.org
 

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