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Queens Chronicle

Music, science collide as Bjork hits Science Hall

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Posted: Thursday, February 2, 2012 12:00 pm

After sold-out performances in her hometown of Reykjavik, avante-garde musician Bjork will begin touring to support her new album “Biophilia,” with a six-performance residency at Flushing’s New York Hall of Science starting Feb. 3.

In a partnership with the Creators Project and the Hall of Science, Bjork will bring a unique, multi-sensory experience to the iconic Great Hall, a building first unveiled at the 1963-64 New York World’s Fair.

But “Biophilia” at the Hall of Science is about more than just performance — 60 lucky middle schoolers will take part in interactive science and music workshops relating to the album.

They will learn about subjects touched on in “Biophilia,” including crystalline structures and lunar phases. And they will use the iPhone apps that come with “Biophilia” as tools for music composition, delving into the study of how musicology relates to nature.

Dan Wempa, the Hall of Science’s spokesman, said Bjork was very involved in crafting the custom education series.

“We developed the education piece around the content of the songs,” Wempa said. “Each song is based on a different scientific theme ranging from dark matter to viruses to DNA. It was really important to her that the education component picked up on those themes.”

Bjork’s six shows will be performed in the round, with no audience members more than a few yards from the stage, and will feature custom, one-of-a-kind instruments, including 10-foot pendulum harps and twin musical Tesla coils.

The Icelandic singer-songwriter, has a following as eclectic as her music, with fans who enjoy genres ranging from classical to electronic dance music, rock ’n’ roll to jazz. She has been nominated for 12 Grammies and won the award for best actress at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival for “Dancer in the Dark.”

“Biophilia” is Bjork’s seventh full-length studio album. It’s been called the “first app album” because of the iPhone programs that can be downloaded to accompany its songs.

Bjork said in a statement that she wanted “to prove science nerds wrong, to unite the scientific and the emotional.” She added that she wants “Biophilia” to “weave seamlessly into science ... and musicology.”

Wempa explained that although the events involving Bjork are special, they’re really a continuation of, not a departure from, what the Hall of Science already does.

“It’s a variation on what happens here all the time — looking at scientific themes in unexpected ways,” he said. “Our mission is to find engaging ways that invite people to participate. It makes science less of a subject that needs to be learned and more of an activity that’s fun and feels good when you do it.”

With the related education programming, students will be “learning how to use a new tool or learning how to use creativity to express a concept,” he added, saying that the show is about “helping people get excited about science through the power of music.”

Bjork worked with a number of people to put the album and show together, including other musicians, instrument makers, inventors, scientists, writers and app developers, who helped in the “exploration of physical forces — particularly those where music, nature and technology meet.”

The project, which Bjork refers to as a return to “punk DIY ideals,” will also feature an award-winning, 24-piece Icelandic female choir.

All six performances at the Hall of Science are sold out, though tickets are still available at websites like StubHub and Craigslist. The 10-track album is available now from One Little Indian/Nonesuch records on both CD and vinyl LP, and on iTunes.


When: Feb. 3, 6, 9, 12, 15 & 18 at

8:30 p.m.

Where: New York Hall of Science

47-01 111 St., Flushing

Tickets: $75/ticketmaster.com

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