"Do aliens listen to music? What music would children in Iceland want to send them from planet Earth?!"
In 1977, NASA launched 2 spacecrafts on an endless journey, exploring our solar system. Attached was a golden record called Sounds of Earth, full of music, sounds, images and greetings in various languages. The aim was to introduce humans and life on earth to aliens - in case they exist and in case they would find the spacecrafts!
In 2023, children from 18 elementary schools across Iceland developed their own material for their own Golden Record to send into space, under the guidance of music teachers and a multidisciplinary team of artists and scientists.
The children were invited to a series of interdisciplinary workshops, including a song writing workshop. Every group session started out by writing a few greetings to aliens and short sentences where the children described their life on Earth. The workshop leaders guided the children on how to put them together into song lyrics. Afterwards a melody was written by the kids - to a chord progression and groove they chose. A dance was also choreographed by a group of students - since they thought "hey, maybe the aliens don't have ears. Then we can explain the human body to them with these moves!” The song was given the title "Let's send music into space!".
The project culminated in a music performance in Harpa Concert Hall at Big Bang Festival on April 21st 2023. 120 children, accompanied by a professional ensemble of musicians, premiered their original composition for aliens. The performance took place in Norðurljós concert hall, and was performed to a total of 1500 audience members.
The audience got a short introduction on the Golden Record 2023 project by one of Iceland’s most renowned astronomers. He then left them with the following words “Now, imagine that you are an alien. You have never seen a human, let alone an instrument - and you have no idea what music is!". The musical performance started with the brass band showcasing their instruments, which then it melted into a medley of songs, leading into the new original composition for aliens.
Following the premiere a golden EP took off the ground with a ceremony from the harbour in front of Harpa Music Hall. The record flew from Earth attached to a weather balloon, conducted by Space Iceland.
This project was produced by ÞYKJÓ, in collaboration with Harpa, UniSci, Big Bang Festival, Space Iceland and the Association of Music Teachers.
Golden Record Children's Choir, Grafarvogur School Brassband, Ingibjörg Fríða Helgadóttir (music director and conductor), Sigurður Ingi Einarsson (music director and percussion), Bjarni Karlsson (piano), Svava Rún Steingrímsdóttir (choir conductor), Bryndís Ásta Guðjónsdóttir (cello and guitar), Sóley Stefánsdóttir (electronics), Sigurbjörg Stefánsdóttir and Ívar Björnsson (graphic designers), Halldór Baldursson (illustration), Dagný Arnalds (coaching), Edda Elísabet Magnúsdóttir (consultant), Sigríður Sunna Reynisdóttir (artistic director and producer).