British Columbia

Chris Hadfield performs space music in Vancouver

Canadian astronaut Commander Chris Hadfield has been to space three times, but this weekend, for the first time ever, he is performing with the Vancouver Symphony and UBC Opera to showcase music he wrote in space.

'It's an immensely inspirational place ... to truly see the world for what it is'

Astronaut Col. Chris Hadfield spoke to CBC Radio's The Early Edition Friday morning before performing with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and UBC Opera that night. (CBC)

Canadian astronaut Col. Chris Hadfield has been to space three times, but this weekend, for the first time ever, he is performing with the Vancouver Symphony and the UBC Opera to showcase music he wrote in space.

"To me, it's just a lovely way to help try and explain what exploration, for this human being, is really like," he said.

Hadfield spent 166 days in space in 2012 and 2013, at the International Space Station. He calls the view from the ISS inspirational.

"The world is constantly erupting in a beautiful surprise underneath you because you're going eight kilometres a second," said Hadfield.

"Think of the soundtrack that's in your head when you see our whole country in ten minutes."

Art during exploration

Writing and playing music during his time in space helped him make sense of the experience, said Hadfield. Afterall, creating music during exploration is only natural, said the veteran astronaut.

"We find the ability to explore somewhere new, our culture, as it is, comes with us, and then it starts to evolve to explain the new place to ourselves," he said. 

"It's an immensely inspirational place and a clear place, to truly see the world for what it is."

"There’s been a Vancouver-made guitar up at the space station for the last 14 years," said Chris Hadfield. (CBC)

Hadfield says traveling in space is still an intensely physical and technical experience that only astronauts can participate in, but he believes that will change one day. When it does, artists will be able to experience space travel for themselves.

"Eventually, with the advances that are being made in launch technology and the longevity of it, eventually, people who are so talented in the creation of things in music and all the other fields, will get a chance to see the world for what it truly is from that vantage point," he said.

"I really look forward to that day."

'We spend our whole lives practicing'

Hadfield had one opportunity to practice with the Vancouver Symphony and UBC Opera before performing in front of a sold-out crowd Friday and Saturday night. He says he's had plenty of practice with that kind of scenario as an astronaut.

"What astronauts do is practice. We spend our whole lives practicing," said Hadfield, who described playing with the symphony and opera a privilege.

"When the moment comes you normally get one try and the stakes are very high. And this is no different."

With files from CBC Radio's The Early Edition


To listen to the full interview, click the link labelled: Space is 'an immensely inspirational place' for music says astronaut Chris Hadfield.

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