Friday October 21, 2016

Music, Science and Rising Waters

Climate change, sustainability and stewardship have long been core concerns at the University of Dayton. This month, a visiting musician and a NASA scientist team up to engage audiences in one of the earth's biggest environmental challenges: rising sea levels.

On Thursday, Oct. 27, ArtsLIVE will host a two-part program, Acqua Alta: A Scientific and Musical Exploration of Rising Waters. The evening features a lecture at 6 p.m. by Ian Fenty, a climatologist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, followed by a performance at 8 p.m. by pianist Jenny Q. Chai. A casual reception will be offered between the two programs in the lobby of Sears Recital Hall in the Jesse Philips Humanities Center on the University campus, where both events will take place.

Fenty, who received his doctorate in climate physics and chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, collaborates with oceanographers, glaciologists and other scientists to reconstruct the circulation of Earth’s polar oceans. His talk about rising sea levels will draw on a range of data, including that collected by a fleet of autonomous robots called Argo profilers that have been sampling the world’s oceans since 2003. Some of this data will be incorporated into Chai’s musical performance, which will include video projection.

While Fenty’s lecture takes an objective perspective on environmental change, Chai’s concert is designed to evoke an emotional response. Her music selections — primarily works inspired thematically by water — are sequenced to build a narrative, from tranquil beginnings to the more troubled waters of our current age. Video projection during the performance will complement and help build the mood.

Acqua Alta is co-sponsored by the ArtsLIVE, the University’s arts and cultural events presenting organization, and the Hanley Sustainability Institute. The two-part program is open to the public.

Admission to Fenty’s lecture is free. Tickets for Chai’s performance are $16 general admission; $12 for seniors and University faculty, staff and alumni; and $8 for students, available in the lobby starting at 7 p.m. or in advance by calling the box office at 937-229-2545. Group discounts are available by contacting Eileen Carr at

For more information, visit the ArtsLIVE website at

- Eileen Carr, ArtsLIVE coordinator

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