Musiqa began its 2020-2021 season with the world premiere of a new work celebrating the human obsession with the night sky and the universe. Composer Trevor Weston’s “Stars” utilized stellar seismology research recordings to create a new interpretation of the “music of the spheres.” The text was drawn from the poem of the same name by Robert Hayden, the first African-American writer to hold the office of Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress (since renamed U.S. Poet Laureate.) 

This series of videos provides context for Robert Hayden’s work and Musiqa’s commission through interviews with astronomer Dr. Gibor Basri, literary scholar Emerson Zora Hamsa, religion scholar Dr. Josef Sorett, and composer Trevor Weston.

Composer Trevor Weston talks about the creation of “Stars.”

Dr. Gibor Basri is Professor Emeritus of Astronomy at the University of California, Berkley. His work in the 1980s concentrated on star formation and the study of T Tauri stars. In 1994 he confirmed the existence of low mass stellar objects known as brown dwarfs, and is widely recognized as a world authority on them.

Emerson Zora Hamsa  is a literary scholar and PhD candidate at Rice University. In this video she provides insight into Robert Hayden’s life and his poem “Stars”.

Josef Sorett is Professor of Religion and African American and African Diaspora Studies at Columbia University, where he is also chair of the Department of Religion and directs the Center on African-American Religion, Sexual Politics and Social Justice. As an interdisciplinary scholar of religion and race in the Americas, he employs primarily historical and literary approaches to the study of religion in black communities and cultures in the United States.