In Space, No One Can Hear You Play

In Space, No One Can Hear You Play
June 13, 2014 leonard slatkin

“Sarah Brightman Signs On for International Space Station Gig: Soprano will pay $52m in bid to be the first professional musician to sing from space—but faces competition from Lady Gaga”

The Guardian, June 12, 2014

Operator: “Hello. You have reached the Intergalactic Musicians Travel Agency. My name is Stacy. How may I help you?”

Sam: “Stacy. My name is Sam Factotum, and I represent several artists who are interested in performing out of this world. I understand that there is fierce competition for who will be the first.”

Stacy: “Yes, but I must tell you that our availability is somewhat limited these days. We have had requests from so many musicians that we are finding it difficult to decide who goes.”

Sam: “I understand, but my clients are willing to pay big bucks for the opportunity. They represent the world of classical music and feel that this is the true music of the spheres.”

Stacy: “Can you share the names of some of these performers with me?”

Sam: “Well, Plácido Domingo says he has been around long enough to remember when the first man was launched into space. Wouldn’t that be more representative of the kind of musician who should be the first up there?”

Stacy: “Possibly, but the singer market is already cornered. Besides, we are not so sure that an HD broadcast in theaters is going to be part of the event. This is a non-union gig.”

Sam: “How about Yo-Yo Ma?”

Stacy: “Nice idea, but it is probable that he would not be allowed to take his end pin on board the spacecraft.”

Sam: “True. He can’t do it on Earth either. Wynton Marsalis is another possibility.”

Stacy: “No. If he goes for a high note, the windows could blow out.”

Sam: “Josh Bell?”

Stacy: “No one will recognize him. Is Lang Lang one of your clients?”

Sam: “Yes, but he is already committed for his Martian debut in 2025. What if the first musician in space was not a performer but a creator?”

Stacy: “You mean a composer? We hadn’t really thought about that. The idea of the first piece written in space might be interesting. Any suggestions?”

Sam: “Philip Glass comes to mind. You can just send him up for a couple minutes and with the repeats he puts in, it will seem like hours. I can also offer John Adams. After all, he did write Guide to Strange Places.”

Stacy: “No, I am afraid that will not work. With zero gravity they would not be able to write anything, as the pencil will keep floating around. It does not look like we will be able to help you.”

Sam: “Wait! I have it! Valery Gergiev! All we have to do is find a day when he is free. And there is no problem with punctures to the ship’s shell, as he only uses a toothpick.”

Stacy: “Great idea! We can put him in a spacesuit for a walk outside the station. Sound does not travel in outer space anyway.”

Sam: “Fine; we are settled then. What is this going to cost?”

Stacy: “Right now we have a bidding war going on and the current offering is around 70 million dollars.”

Sam: “No problem. Valery can pay for it with frequent-flyer miles.”

Stacy: “Sounds like we might have a deal. I do have to warn you that the compression on the eardrums during blast off can cause a degree of hearing loss.”

Sam: “So perhaps that will not work, in which case we are left with only one alternative that solves this problem.”

Stacy: “What would that be?”

Sam: “A music critic.”

Stacy: “Okay. I will leave it to you to select the person. Are there any other questions?”

Sam: “If indeed we get a critic, do they have to come back?”

Published on The Huffington Post, June 13, 2014