The planetarium will host a 200th anniversary performance honoring the astronomer and composer who discovered Uranus – Armagh I

The Armagh Observatory and Planetarium (AOP) will hold a live musical event in its dome on August 19 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the death of astronomer and musician William Herschel. Renowned for having discovered the planet Uranus, Herschel was also an accomplished composer.

The event will see Sligo Baroque Orchestra perform a music program at the Observatory. This will include Herschel’s Symphony No. 14, as well as a movement from a Symphony for Strings and his second oboe concerto. The concert will also see what is believed to be the first performance since the 18th century of Herschel’s Violin Concerto in G major – with Nicola Cleary as soloist.

Sligo Baroque Orchestra performing solo viola da gamba with Sarah Groser

Alongside these works by Herschel, the Sligo Baroque Orchestra will perform symphonies by two of his contemporaries, Johann Christian Bach and Carl Friedrich Abel, both famous in London. The event will also include a presentation by the Director of the Armagh Observatory and Planetarium, Professor Michael Burton.

Professor Burton commented: “We are very much looking forward to welcoming the Sligo Baroque Orchestra as they perform the compositions of William Herschel in commemoration of the 200th anniversary of his death.

“In addition to being an accomplished musician, Herschel was renowned for his groundbreaking discovery of the planet Uranus. His importance for the development of astronomy cannot be overstated, so it is fitting that we have chosen to celebrate his life in our Observatory. We look forward to welcoming visitors when they join us for the show.

Before becoming an astronomer, Herschel was a renowned professional musician. He performed as a violinist, violist, oboist, harpsichordist and organist, and became director of public music in Bath. His body of composed music includes more than twenty symphonies, as well as concertos and pieces for small ensembles.

Sligo Baroque Orchestra

Born Friedrich Wilhelm Herschel on November 15, 1738, he pioneered the use of astronomical spectrophotometry, using prisms and temperature-measuring equipment to measure the wavelength distribution of stellar spectra. While undertaking this research, Herschel also discovered infrared radiation.

Nicola Cleary, conductor of the Sligo Baroque Orchestra, said: “We are delighted to have been invited by the Armagh Observatory and Planetarium to perform pieces by William Herschel as we celebrate his life.

“Herschel was both a pioneer and a polymath. In addition to his contributions to the world of astronomy, he left a great musical legacy, and it is a pleasure to perform some of his most powerful pieces in such an important venue.

Tickets for the event can be purchased by clicking here.

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Arline J. Mercier