Music » Music Features

Vanishing Sun teases 2020 collab with Strasenburgh Planetarium

"Impressions of the Infinite" to feature renovated Star Theater, live music

by

(Left to right) Drummer Tommy Mintel, Steve Fentress, bassist Luis Carrion, keyboardist Ian Sherman and guitarist Brother Wilson at the Strasenburgh Planetarium. - PHOTO BY DORIAN MODE
  • PHOTO BY DORIAN MODE
  • (Left to right) Drummer Tommy Mintel, Steve Fentress, bassist Luis Carrion, keyboardist Ian Sherman and guitarist Brother Wilson at the Strasenburgh Planetarium.
In a teaser video released today, Rochester funk-fusion band Vanishing Sun announced a new collaboration with the Strasenburgh Planetarium and Director Steve Fentress.

Fentress and the band plan to premiere "Impressions of the Infinite," a multimedia performance featuring live music, in early 2020. The collaboration will integrate video  by Fentress, along with sound design by Matt Ramerman of The Green Room.


The roughly hour-long performance features music composed by Vanishing Sun's keyboardist Ian Sherman. "I've always loved the aesthetic of the planetarium and the cosmos," he said in a recent phone interview.

Sherman said he's had several diverse influences while writing the music: classical composers Richard Wagner and Claude Debussy, 70's jazz fusion artists including Herbie Hancock and the Mahavishnu Orchestra, and the "Blade Runner" soundtrack.

The seeds of this creative partnership were sown when Fentress first saw Vanishing Sun perform at Rochester International Jazz Festival, Sherman said.

"I heard this group and thought, this music belongs in a 21st-century planetarium," Fentress said in a statement.



But the project began to flourish when the Strasenburgh Planetarium temporarily  closed  in September 2018 for renovations to its Star Theater. Reopened in January, the theater is now equipped with a full-dome projection system and an upgraded floor plan that allows for removable seating.

The "Impressions of the Infinite" performance is meant to showcase the new technical capabilities of the planetarium. Fentress's video using the Evans and Sutherland's Digistar 6 projector will be integrated with music performed by a four-piece iteration of Vanishing Sun.

"He is very much a performer along with the band, especially when we do it in real time," Sherman said of Fentress.

"Now, the Star Theater has the newest optics, the newest and most powerful planetarium visualization software, the newest sound, and the space to host a live band," Fentress said. "'Impressions of the Infinite' will use it all."

The performance date and ticket information are yet to be announced. rmsc.org/strasenburghplanetarium/shows; vanishingsun.com.