By Tammy Scileppi
Icelandic superstar Björk’s new album “Biophilia” overflows with a high-tech fusion of surprising melodies and instrumentals. Her performances are colorful, audio-visual, multimedia experiences, where different facets of science and technology combine to push the bounds of creative musical expression with an eclectic mix of rock, jazz, folk, electronic, dance and classical genres.
Taking New York City and the United States by storm, Björk’s premiere extravaganza performance Friday kicked off a series of shows running 10 nights through Feb. 18, at the New York Hall of Science in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. She wowed 600-plus fans, playing to a full house, in the intimate setting of the Great Hall, where no audience member sat more than a few yards from the stage.
A lifelong fascination with science fueled the avant-pop singer-songwriter’s desire to write lyrics inspired by scientific themes, such as DNA, viruses, dark matter and cosmology. Each performance features 10 tunes exploring “romantic” relationships between musical structures and natural phenomena — from the atomic to the cosmic.
Described as the world’s “first app album” — released in collaboration with Apple — Björk has described “Biophilia” as a multimedia collection “encompassing music, apps, Internet, installations and live shows.”
An award-winning, 24-piece Icelandic female choir brings a cathedral-like ambience to “Biophilia” shows, accompanied by unique musical instruments created by an Icelandic organ builder and a Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab graduate.
There are four, 10-foot pendulum-harps that swing and resonate, creating musical notes. So essentially gravity is one of the “musicians,” along with a percussionist, keyboardist and harpist. Visuals from the Biophilia Apps complete the mind-boggling presentations.
Musicology Related to Nature and Science
A three-week long Biophilia Education Series, featuring interactive science/music workshops mirroring Björk’s works, began Monday at the Hall of Science. There, 50 local middle-schoolers participated in demonstrations and hands-on activities led by instructors, exploring the scientific themes in Biophilia. They also learn to use Biophilia Apps as tools for music composition.
“Björk was aware we were developing interactive ways to get kids excited about science, so she approached us and said, ‘I have this suite of apps — a series of resources for kids,’” said Dan Wempa, vice president of external affairs for the Hall of Science. “We wanted to find a way to work together and establish a partnership, so that’s how all this came together.”
Margaret Honey, president and chief executive officer of the Hall of Science, said, “We are always looking for ways to engage children and motivate them to learn about science. Björk has conceived of a thoughtful, engaging way to use her music as a medium, not just for teaching about melody and composition, but about science and nature, too.”
All of Björk’s performances in New York City sold out within minutes of going on sale, according to a release. She will perform at the Hall of Science Feb. 9, 12, 15 and 18 at 8:30 p.m. and at the Roseland Ballroom on Feb. 22, 25 and 28 and March 2.
Learn more about her project with the New York Hall of Science, at 47-01 111th St., at nysci.org.