Augusta Read Thomas' new piece for carillon will be premiered at the inauguration for University President Alivisatos on Friday, October 29 at Rockefeller Chapel. The four-minute composition shares its title with the University’s motto: “Crescat scientia; vita excolatur,” translated as “Let knowledge grow from more and more; and so be human life enriched.” Attendance at the inauguration is by invitation only, however there will be a livestream on the inauguration website.
The piece’s resounding final chord will mark the first time all 72 bells of the carillon will be rung at the same time. That chord requires the combined efforts of 12 carillonneurs simultaneously pressing dozens of keys, and another assistant in the basement more than 200 feet below activating an electric circuit that sets in motion the larger “swinging bells”—each the approximate size of a Smart car.
Another piece by Thomas will also be performed at the inauguration: the violin duet “Double Helix,” which will be played by Janet Sung and Yuan-Qing Yu. Originally composed at the request of former President Robert J. Zimmer—now the University’s chancellor—for the 2011 dedication of Mansueto Library, Thomas said the piece felt uniquely appropriate to the inauguration. It was recommended for the program by Anne Walters Robertson, dean of the Division of the Humanities.
“President Alivisatos is a chemist, and the piece is inspired by the [molecular] structure of DNA—a double helix,” Thomas said. As a piece of music about science, “it’s also symbolic of the cross-fertilization of disciplines that UChicago is so well known for.”
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