Album Release - Stanley Curtis | Orbits of Infinity

"My colleague, James David, wrote a piece for me called Moonwatcher, which shifted my focus to outer space. I talked with four other composers to see if they might be interested in writing more “space” music. What I got back was a treasure trove of gorgeous, ethereal and original music. With this album, Orbits of Infinity, we are able to give this amazing music to the inhabitants of this blue planet we call Earth." - Stanley Curtis



Program Notes from the album of Orbits of Infinity by Stanley Curtis

Kevin Poelking’s Cassini was commissioned by Dr. Stanley Curtis for his recording project commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing. All the pieces for this project are inspired by space, its exploration, and our human understanding of it.

"While searching for material to use in this project, I came across multiple recordings from NASA’s (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) database as well as information on the 20 year “Cassini Mission,” explained below from the official website:

 "Cassini revealed in great detail the true wonders of Saturn, a giant world ruled by raging storms and delicate harmonies of gravity. Cassini carried a passenger to the Saturn system, the European Huygens probe—the first human-made object to land on a world in the distant outer solar system. After 20 years in space (13 of those years exploring Saturn), Cassini exhausted its fuel supply. And so, to protect moons of Saturn that could have conditions suitable for life, Cassini was sent on a daring final mission that would seal its fate. After a series of nearly two dozen nail-biting dives between the planet and its icy rings, Cassini plunged into Saturn’s atmosphere on Sept. 15, 2017, returning science data to the very end."*

-Kevin Poelking, Fall 2019

 *NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Goddard Space Flight Center. “Overview | Cassini – NASA Solar System Exploration.”

***NASA recordings available at



Stanley Curtis also recently commissioned Amy Dunker to write Three Images from the Hubble Telescope—three musical meditations on pictures taken through the famous orbiting telescope launched in April 1990 aboard Discovery’s STS-31 mission.

The first movement, NGC 4907, depicts the barred spiral galaxy that shows its starry face from 270 million light-years away to anyone who can see it from the Northern Hemisphere. This is a new image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope of the face-on galaxy, displaying its beautiful spiral arms, wound loosely around its central bright bar of stars. Shining brightly below the galaxy is a star that is actually within our own Milky Way galaxy. This star appears much brighter than the billions of stars in NGC 4907 as it is 100,000 times closer, residing only 2,500 light-years away. NGC 4907 is also part of the Coma Cluster, a group of over 1,000 galaxies, some of which can be seen around NGC 4907 in this image. This massive cluster of galaxies lies within the constellation of Coma Berenices, which is named for the locks of Queen Berenice II of Egypt: the only constellation named after a historical person.

The second movement is Interstellar Comet Borisov. On Aug. 30, 2019, when amateur astronomer Gennady Borisov gazed upward with his homemade telescope, he spotted an object moving in an unusual direction. Now called 2I/Borisov, this runaway point of light turned out to be the first confirmed comet to enter our solar system from some unknown place beyond our Sun’s influence. Astronomers everywhere rushed to take a look with some of the most powerful instruments in the world, hoping to learn as much as they could about the mysterious visitor.

Now, thanks to observations with NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory’s Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), astronomers have figured out that 2I/Borisov has an unusual composition. Specifically, it has a higher concentration of carbon monoxide than any comet seen at a similar distance; that is, within about 200 million miles (300 million kilometers) of the Sun. This suggests to scientists that the comet could have formed around a red dwarf — a smaller, fainter type of star than the Sun — though other kinds of stars are possible. Another idea is that 2I/Borisov could be a carbon monoxide-rich fragment of a small planet.

Dunker’s final movement is Rose Galaxies—a large spiral galaxy apparently attached to another one by a swirl of stars creating a rose-like effect caused by the gravitational pull of the galaxy below it. The sprinkling of blue jewel-like points across the top of the larger galaxy is the combined light from clusters of intensely bright and hot young blue stars. These massive stars glow fiercely in ultraviolet light. The two galaxies, known as ARP 273, are in the Andromeda constellation 300m light years from Earth.



New Worlds by Douglas Hedwig (2020, Trio for Soprano, Trumpet and Piano):

Originally inspired by the 50th Anniversary of the historic Apollo lunar landing in 1969, New Worlds is a musical exploration of the wonders of space and interstellar discovery.  The three poems selected for this work are from three different centuries, reflecting the reality that curiosity about our universe has always been a part of the human experience.  The work was commissioned by and is dedicated to Dr. Stanley Curtis.

Notes by Douglas Hedwig

Supernova 1054 is not really unaccompanied. Kevin Olson, formally a teacher at Colorado State University, wrote a new work for solo trumpet with computer accompaniment. The computer interacts with the soloist to create an evocative sound landscape. This piece was inspired by a pictograph in New Mexico which depicts a supernova that happened in the year 1054. The composer writes, “I ended basing the work on the scale from an Anasazi flute found in Pueblo Bonito (a ruin of a large structure at Chaco Canyon.) I am not going for any “native” feel to it because I would feel disingenuous doing so, especially since we know so little about their culture. The story is told from the perspective of the supernova, played by the trumpet. The supernova is created, then spends five lonely millennia before it happens upon our Earth and hears the sounds of the small observer at Chaco Canyon, represented by the electronic flute. The remainder of the piece plays out like a conversation between the two. At first, there is little understanding, as the flute is based on the Anasazi scale, but the trumpet only plays notes not in that scale. This leads to a combination of curiosity and fear before the two learn to communicate in a common language by sharing the notes of their scales, ultimately making music together that they could not alone. The Anasazi were quite advanced in their understandings of astronomy.  One example is a spot where the sun shines through a small keyhole in a rock formation that they marked in such a way that it would only hit the mark at high noon at the solstice. When the supernova would have been a surprise, it is entirely conceivable that their individual reactions might have varied from fear to fascination, from superstition to science.  Just like our reactions would.”

Moonwatcher Sonata for Trumpet and Piano (2019) by Colorado State University professor of composition, James David, draws from the long history of myths and stories that were inspired by the moon from numerous world cultures. The first movement, “Ixchel,” is inspired by the Mayan moon goddess of both birth and death, taking the form of a bold fanfare and dance with references to Revueltas. “The Jade Rabbit” is an Asian analog for the man in the moon who resides on the moon and is referenced in many Chinese and Japanese myths. A mysterious and expressive adagio depicts the elusive rabbit using harmonies from Gagaku, a form of Japanese funeral music. The final movement, “Artemis,” is an intense and aggressive allegro that describes the Greek goddess of the moon and the hunt. Quick darting motives and virtuosic multiple tonguing display her strength and vitality. This work was commissioned by a consortium of university trumpeters organized by Dr. Stanley Curtis, assistant professor of trumpet at Colorado State University.

Notes from Orbits of Infinity by Stanley Curtis