Space Station Earth ★★★★ Royal Albert Hall | May 15, 2022

Space Station Earth combines original music by Ilan Eshkeri with images from the International Space Station to create an experience that seeks to offer the audience a new perspective on our planet and our place in the universe. The concert is preceded by a discussion between the composer and British, European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut, Tim Peake. Peake talks about approaching Eshkeri with the idea for the project and about his own experiences travelling to the Space Station and living there. He does a terrific job of communicating his enthusiasm for space travel and for this collaborative effort which seeks to share that adventure. The concert itself strives to immerse the listener/spectator in the myriad of feelings provoked by a voyage into space. As Eshkeri notes "There are so many facts and figures about travelling to the International Space Station, but no one has ever told the emotional journey that astronauts go on." Eshkeri's lush and uplifting composition when combined with the images certainly does a fine job of doing this. One cannot help but be moved by the music's dramatic representation of liftoff and its reflection on the loneliness and serenity of space itself. For us, the experience was somewhat attenuated by the use of lighting effects which sometimes distracted and at other times obscured the images on the screens. It might have been better to let the extraordinary visuals that have been assembled speak for themselves through Eshkeri's music rather than adding these additional lighting elements. Nevertheless, the show is a moving and thought-provoking odyssey. For most of us, this is as close as we will ever come to seeing our world and ourselves in this amazing context. Peake says that every astronaut is changed by their experience, and it can make one realise the vulnerability of our planet, our responsibility for it and the need to cooperate if we are going to survive. One can only hope this concert can further such lofty aspirations. It certainly succeeds in providing a unique and challenging perspective on humanity's place in the vastness of space.

Rated: ★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Image: Cupola, ISS by ESA, NASA and Thomas Pesquet.

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