In Rome, A ‘Cabaret’ Celebrates the 400th Anniversary of Galileo’s Telescope on the Gianicolo

“Galileo’s Eyes”, video by Enzo Aronica projected on the AAR’s Casa Rustica

The American Academy’s Casa Rustica (in the present Bass Garden) occupies the precise site where, on Thursday 14 April 1611, Galileo made his first demonstration to a learned audience in Rome of his new invention, named on this occasion as the “telescope”. That evening represents the baptism of Galileo’s device as a true scientific instrument, as well as its inaugural presentation for scrutiny by members of the Church.

To mark the 400th anniversary of this historic achievement, the Academy decided to offer three events, starting on Thursday 7 April 2011, with an installment of the AAR’s “Conversations That Matter” series, a dialogue between AAR Director Christopher S. Celenza FAAR’94 and Vatican Astronomer Brother Guy Consolmagno, SJ.

Thursday 7 April: AAR Director Christopher S. Celenza (left) with Brother Guy Consolmagno SJ

Plus from Thursday 7 April through Friday 15 April 2011 the Academy’s Gallery has been hosting an exhibition organized by the Specola Vaticana (Vatican Observatory).

Thursday 7 April: exhibition opening of astronomical instruments from the Specola Vaticana

And on the actual anniversary, Thursday 14 April 2011 (7-11 PM), the Academy presented an evening-long indoor and outdoor program of music, readings, art installations, multimedia performances, and participatory stargazing, entitled the Galileo Cabaret. Read here for a lively (illustrated) description of the event by Associated Press reporter Nicole Winfield that has appeared in 200+ newspapers worldwide. Each of these Galileo-related events has been made possible through the generous support of Finmeccanica.

Here are some images from the Thursday 14 April Galileo Cabaret:

Photo: Thomas J. Campanella

Current Fellow Adrian Van Allen’s replica 1610 Galileo telescope (far left) takes on some 2011 models. Photo: Thomas J. Campanella

Blinding in its beauty: Italian Affiliated Fellow in the Arts Paola Pivi’s ‘Leoni’

Tom Whalen (Friend of the American Academy in Italy) ponders 17th century astrolabe from Specola Vaticana collection

Elinor Kirchwey, leader of the mysterious six ‘Vestales’ who expertly executed Renaud Auguste-Dormeuil’s stunning installation “I will keep a light burning”. Candles (500 of them) were arranged by Auguste-Dormeuil precisely as the stars appeared in the night sky of Thursday 14 April 1611.

Photo: Thomas J. Campanella

Photo: Casey L. Brown

Photo: Thomas J. Campanella

Above four photos, views of Renaud Auguste-Dormeuil, “I will keep a light burning”. Photo: Casey L. Brown

Photo: Thomas J. Campanella

Photo: Jennifer Scappettone

Above three images, Enzo Aronica’s unforgettable “Galileo’s Eyes” video installation. Photo: Thomas J. Campanella

Author Dava Sobel takes the stage for a reading from her bestseller Galileo’s Daughter. Photo: Gregorio Borgia / Associated Press

Huck Hodge (piano, computer) and Karen Yasinsky (video) perform world premiere of Hodge’s “pools of shadow from an older sky”. Photo: Jennifer Scappattone

Erika Eckert (viola, in window at upper left) and Paul Rudy (on stage, behind umbrella) perform world premiere of Rudy’s “At Rome Around Jovian Moons”.

Opening and closing the Galileo 400 festivities was Culture Brothers, here performing on the traditional (telescoping) horn known as the dung-chen

And here is a summary of the entire arc of Galileo events:

Thursday 7 April 2011, Conversation: an installment of the AAR’s “Conversations That Matter” series, that explored issues of science and faith, hosted by AAR Director Christopher S. Celenza FAAR’94. Celenza’s guest was Brother Guy Consolmagno, S.J. (author of Brother Astronomer and Turn Left at Orion, and curator of the Vatican Meteorite Collection at Castel Gandolfo).

A future post on this weblog will feature a video of the entire hour-long Conversation.

Thursday 7 April through Friday 15 April 2011, Exhibition: an exhibition organized by the Specola Vaticana (Vatican Observatory) in the Academy’s Gallery, featuring one of the world’s finest collections of historical instruments for observing the sky and identifying stars and celestial bodies. Also contributing to the exhibition is Florence’s Museo Galileo, which loaned to the AAR a replica of a 1610 Galileo telescope, one that traveled in 2009 on the space shuttle Atlantis.

Thursday 14 April 2011 (7-11 PM), Galileo Cabaret: in the Academy’s Gallery, Cortile and Bass Garden, an evening-long indoor and outdoor program of music, readings, art installations, multimedia performances, and participatory stargazing. The Academy’s Rome Sustainable Food Project and associated vendors will cater the event, with food and drink evocative of the Age of Galileo. Generously sponsoring the wine for the event is Consorzio Tutela Vino Bardolino DOC. Coffee was offered free by Caffè Haiti Roma, and olive oil (including as the main ingredient in the most delicious torta imaginable) by MADI (Madi Gandolfo).

Performing at the Casa Rustica: Culture Brothers; Huck Hodge (Luciano Berio Rome Prize recipient) with Karen Yasinsky (Joseph H. Hazen Rome Prize recipient); Paul Rudy (Elliott Carter Rome Prize recipient) with Erika Eckert and video projections by Casey L. Brown (Prince Charitable Trusts Rome Prize recipient); also Dava Sobel, author of Galileo’s Daughter.

Huck Hodge and Paul Rudy each offered world premieres of musical compositions specially commissioned for the event.

Wednesday 13 April: Huck Hodge in rehearsal for the Galileo Cabaret

Presenting installations throughout the American Academy: Enzo Aronica, N[ever]land (projections on Casa Rustica exterior); Renaud Auguste-Dormeuil, French Academy in Rome (“I Will Keep a Light Burning”); Helidon Gjergji (intervention in 16th century basement levels of Casa Rustica); and Giovanna Latis, AAR Italian Affiliated Fellow in the Arts (“Brancusi 03″ in Gallery).

“Galileo’s Eyes”, video by Enzo Aronica projected on the AAR’s Casa Rustica

Also featured: Luigi Ontani (“Canopo Galileo ChiniLei”, pictured on invitation below); Paola Pivi, AAR Italian Affiliated Fellow in the Arts (“Leoni”); Marco Raparelli, AAR Italian Affiliated Fellow in the Arts (collectible event T-shirts);  and Adrian Van Allen, Cynthia Hazen Polsky and Leon Polsky Rome Prize recipient (replicas of Galileo telescope, exhibited in the Gallery and also for stargazing).

Thursday 14 April: Paola Pivi during the installation of her ‘Leoni’

Stargazing: Musei Scientifici, Roma Capitale in collaboration with prestigious telescope makers Unitron Italia srl; also Fabio Carnevali.

The event was organized by AAR Mellon Professor Corey Brennan in collaboration with Enzo Aronica (N[ever]land).

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