The Radio Science Orchestra presents

Music out of the Moon

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first manned lunar landing (“Apollo 50”) and the centenary of the invention of the theremin (“Theremin 100”), the creators of Sputnik & Beyond, Welcome to Mars and Memories the Future present Music out of The Moon: an audio-visual spectacular commemorating the Apollo 11 landing. The Radio Science Orchestra will perform rare works for theremin and orchestra, which were originally broadcast from translunar space by Neil Armstrong in 1969.

STORY

Music out of the Moon uses live performance of original and adapted music, projected video, 3D sound and narration to chart the remarkable story of humanity’s journey to the Moon and its unexpected links to the birth of electronic music. Drawing on declassified archival footage, newspaper reports, 50's popular culture, and debut performances of period music, Music out of the Moon is a sonic time capsule rousing nostalgia for the future: from Byron and Lovelace’s dreams of steam-powered rockets, via Nazi rocketry and Sputnik’s radio bleeps, Walt Disney, NASA, the triumphant Apollo Moon landings, leading to Mars and beyond.

The title of the production alludes to Capitol Records’ Music out of the Moon, the earliest popular release to feature an entirely electronic instrument. Released in 1947 and prophesying a future in space, the record contained titles like "Lunar Rhapsody", "Celestial Nocturne" and "Radar Blues", and featured the otherworldly blend of small orchestra and space-controlled theremin, the only instrument controlled without physical contact. 22 years later in July 1969, Neil Armstrong played a cassette of the music as he hurtled back from the actual Moon.

The Radio Science Orchestra draws on this vignette to resurrect and repurpose iconic early electronic works together with new music for the twenty-first century. The performance will include a narrative by acclaimed popular science author Ken Hollings (Welcome to Mars, Space Oracle), and synchronised HD video projections. In the company of the RSO, expect an evening of “hi-fi sci-fi”, previously-unheard transcriptions and glamourous space-age exotica, revealing astonishing connections between Apollo’s conquest of space and the dawn of electronic music.

STAGE: theremins, ondes Martenot, Moog and modular synthesisers, VCS3, concert harp, saxophones, vocal harmonies, melodica, keyboard, electric guitar, bass, percussion, Orb, Illumovox and replica valve theremin (a.k.a. “Flash Gordon’s drinks cabinet”).

MUSIC: spanning Claude Debussy's Clair de Lune, Kraftwerk, Barry Gray, Henry Purcell, Ron Grainer and original RSO compositions, the set will include specially-produced transcriptions of Music out the Moon, music which holds a place in history as the soundtrack to one of humanity's most important scientific achievements.

FILM: drawing on declassified test footage, public information film, B-movies and contemporary advertisements, the production will be accompanied by HD film charting the Space Race and Apollo Program, culminating in the first manned lunar landing in July 1969.

WORD: provided by acclaimed popular science author and Senior Lecturer at the Royal College of Art, Ken Hollings, and interspersed with sampled voices, period audio, and FX from Ground-To-Earth transmission tapes.

THE RADIO SCIENCE ORCHESTRA

A modular Space Age Pop ensemble inspired by the birth of electronic music and the retro future: uniting Theremin, Martenot and Moog; the Radio Science Orchestra brings you exotica, neoclassical, and lounge from the birth of radio to the atomic age and beyond. The ensemble has met with critical acclaim for its performances at TED, the Southbank Centre, London’s ICA, the Shanghai Music Festival, the Bath ICIA, the British Library and Glastonbury Festival.

Bruce Woolley (Vocals, Theremin, Guitar, Arrangement)
Bruce Woolley is an English record producer and composer, co-founder of the Radio Science Orchestra. His writing and collaborative credits include Thomas Dolby, Grace Jones, Nicki Minaj, Baz Luhrmann, the Orb and Will.i.am. In 1981 Bruce's international hit - the Ivor Novello Award-nominated "Video Killed The Radio Star" – became the first song aired on MTV.

Andy Visser (Saxophones, Vox, Keys, Arrangement, Electronics)
Co-founder of the RSO, Andy is a multi-instrumentalist, playing saxophones, keyboards, flute, bass clarinet and electronics in various lineups including Death in Vegas, ONL, The Alice Band and the Radio Science Orchestra. He is also a sound designer and has worked on international projects for Sony, Nokia, Dolby, Samsung and Shell’s “Electric Storm”. Andy’s compositions have been broadcast on terrestrial TV and Radio networks. He released his first album in 2007 to critical acclaim and is currently producing a follow-up.

Joy Smith (Harp, Keys, Melodica)
Multi-instrumentalist Joy Smith has performed harp with the Gabrieli Consort, The Sixteen, The Monteverdi Continuo Ensemble, and the New London Consort. She is baroque harpist for Il Fagioilini and the State Opera in Munich, and is co-director of the ensemble 'Eclipse'. As a multi-instrumentalist she brings knowledge of folk, baroque and classical musicianship to the Orchestra's space-age ensemble, segueing from the the antique to the modern.

Charlie Draper (Theremin, Ondes, Text, Transcriptions)
Charlie Draper plays the space-controlled theremin and the ondes martenot. He has performed for the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, Oslo Opera House, WorldCon Philharmonic Orchestra, British Library, WOMAD Festival, Welsh National Opera House, London ExCEL Centre, New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, Joe's Pub NYC, and been heard on ITV, Channel 4, BBC 1, BBC Radio 3, and BuzzFeed. He has played many principal works for theremin and orchestra, including Schillinger's "First Airphonic Suite" (UK premiere), Rózsa's "Spellbound Concerto", Herrmann's "Suite from the Day the Earth Stood Still" and Elfman's "Mars Attacks!".

Ken Hollings (Narrative)

Ken Hollings is a writer, broadcaster and lecturer at the Royal College of Art and Central St Martins College of Art and Design. Drawing on themes from the birth of radio to cybernetic revolt, from the Space Race to simulacra, and from the Sphäraphon to the music of the spheres, he traverses the permeable boundaries between science fact and science fiction, revealing unexpected connections and challenging prevailing orthodoxies. His authorship includes Destroy All Monsters (2001), Welcome to Mars: Fantasies of Science and the American Century 1947-1959 (2008), and Space Oracle (2018). He has also written and presented for BBC Radio 3, Radio 4, Resonance 104.4 FM, NPS in Holland and ABC on the evolving relationship between culture and technology.

Houston, do you copy our music? ... that’s an old favorite of mine ... an album made about 20 years ago, called ‘Music Out of the Moon’.
— Neil A. Armstrong, July 1969

“Lunar Rhapsody” from “Music out of the Moon” (1947)

. . . . For ever since immortal Man hath glowed, with all kinds of mechanics, and full soon, steam engines will conduct him to the Moon . . .
— Lord Byron, 1819
‘Memories Of The Future is a brave and highly idiosyncratic undertaking ... combining the information-rich commentary .... the music of The Radio Science Orchestra and a dense visual narrative, they manage to execute their concept with considerable panache and charm.
— Wire Magazine Review, "Memories of the Future"

Summertime - The Radio Science Orchestra

By the end of ‘Born Under Sputnik’ . . . . The RSO have achieved something very intriguing. We are no longer calculating or measuring the interaction between the narrative and the music, but are fully absorbed into the newsreel of our memories of the future.
— Wire Magazine Review, "Born under Sputnik"
The theremin specifically, and Leon Theremin’s work in general is the biggest, fattest, most important cornerstone of the whole electronic music medium. That’s where it all began
— Dr Bob R. Moog, synthesizer pioneer

First Man - Music for theremin from the 2018 film

References

  • Albert Glinsky, Theremin: Ether Music and Espionage (2000)

  • NASA, Apollo 11 Technical Earth-to-Ground Transmissions (GOSS NET 1)

  • Andrew Smith, Moondust: In Search of the Men who Fell to Earth (2006)

  • Frances French & Colin Burgess, In the Shadow of the Moon, Vols I-III (2007-2010)