When they say “international,” they really mean international

Last month, Dart Music International staged a week-long free concert in Austin, Texas. Living up to the organization’s name, the concert featured six bands from six continents back to back, three days running. It also featured a global first: a performance from space.

Astronaut Cady Coleman took part from the International Space Station, playing the flute to accompany her band in a toe-tapping performance that was shown to what surely must have been a cheering crowd. I wanted to cheer just watching it at home.

Colonel Coleman starts her video by taking us on a tour through the space station as she heads down to her favorite playing location, the cupola. There she presents three flutes that she took into space as a way of sharing the joy with others (and the owners of those flutes will be instantly recognizable to anyone who enjoys the Chieftains or Jethro Tull).

Then she shows us the view, at which point musicians the world over breathe a sigh of envy. She says she goes there so as not to bother her sleeping crewmates while playing, but it’s hard to imagine being annoyed by such playing as hers. C’mon, Cady, it’s about the view. And the acoustics aren’t bad, either.

UPDATE: I wrote this post two days ago, but just as I was getting ready to upload it today, I found another video. Turns out Ian Anderson (founder of the band Jethro Tull) did more than send his flute into space with Colonel Coleman. He also played with her in the first ever Earth-space duet, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of humanity’s first manned flight into space. (Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin orbited the Earth 50 years ago today.)

Very cool! Plus, I happen to love this song. The video doesn’t identify it, but it’s Bourée, a Jethro Tull treatment of Johann Sebastian Bach’s lute composition, Bourrée in E minor. Also, this video has what may be the best stage entrance of a musician, ever.

By the way, that’s Ian’s flute that Cady is playing. The disparity between the two halves of the duet is due in part to the fact that Cady couldn’t hear Ian live (there’s a delay in transmissions between Earth and the ISS), and also to the fact that Ian Anderson is constitutionally incapable of playing anything straight up.


About Fletcher DeLancey

Socialist heathen and Mac-using author of the Chronicles of Alsea, who enjoys pondering science, politics, well-honed satire (though sarcastic humor can work, too) and all things geeky.
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3 Responses to When they say “international,” they really mean international

  1. Michele says:

    Wow! That is so cool! I was a very little kid when Yuri Gagarin went up in space. I remember my parents talking about it and being amazed that it had happened. People used to talk about living on the moon, missions to Mars, with real belief that these things would happen relatively soon. It fired my imagination and I’ve been in love with the idea of space travel ever since. We haven’t built houses on the moon, or on Mars, but this video reminded me that some people still have that vision of reaching out to space. And what’s also cool, is that Colonel Cady brought other musicians’ flutes up there. Perhaps we’ll realize those other dreams sooner than I think.

  2. Ana_ñ says:

    I see a female Colonel showing us around the International Space Station, then she tell us about her pastime, playing the flute in front of a unique breathtaking view, and finally she shares with the world reminiscences of Bach’s music in the most carefree manner (and hairdo!). That makes me want to sing, “Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves” and send this post to the UN Women’s Organization in order to cheer them up.

    Thank you!!!

  3. mikeb302000 says:

    Wonderful, wonderful post. Thanks so much for those videos.

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