The Greystone Singers, led by Dr. Jennifer Lang (PhD), sing in Convocation Hall on the USask campus. (Credit: Samuel Dymterko)

USask Greystone Singers partner with quantum researchers for concert

SASKATOON – The University of Saskatchewan (USask) Greystone Singers and the Aurora Voce alumni choir will be performing a concert that includes a unique light show created by USask Quantum Innovation researchers.

The concert – titled “Illuminare” after the Elaine Hagenberg composition of the same name – will feature performances by the Greystone Singers and Aurora Voce conducted by Dr. Jennifer Lang (PhD), associate professor of choral and music education and the director of both choirs, along with a light display titled “The Projection Project” created by Master of Science student Anna Elliott, the co-lead of the Quantum Experiences theme within Quantum Innovation at USask, and Dr. Steven Rayan (PhD), director of the Centre for Quantum Topology and Its Applications (quanTA) and professor of mathematics and statistics in the College of Arts and Science.

The concert is scheduled for Sunday night at 7:30 at Saskatoon’s St. John’s Cathedral.

Lang, also the acting vice-dean academic for the College of Arts and Science, said the project is a unique opportunity to combine artistic and scientific mediums.

“We often think that art can only be one sense, but it really is multisensory, multimodal,” Lang said. “It’s a journey through light. And when we think about how light has different dimensions to it, different shades and tones to it, that complements the sonic experience of light as well and how we can express our voices and our music in different timbral ways as well.”

“One of the missions of the Quantum Innovation Signature Area of Research and the associated quanTA Centre is to find new ways to involve the community in quantum science and technologies,” Rayan said. “Science is most often communicated in numbers, symbols, and equations. Those serve us well in our everyday work but can be limiting in our communication to wider audiences, and so we strive to utilize other ways of thinking. One way is through visual representation and art, which is why we started the Projection Project.”

The choral concert will serve as a preview of the Greystone Singers’ upcoming trip to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York City on June 1, 2024. Lang will be featured as a guest conductor with the New England Symphonic Ensemble, leading the Greystone Singers in a performance of Hagenberg’s composition “Illuminare.”

The concert will also include musicians from the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra (SSO) and guest composer Dr. Hussein Janmohamed (PhD) performing his composition "Nur: Reflections on Light.”

The Projection Project, a light installation developed by Elliott and Rayan for Nuit Blanche Eve in 2023, will also make a unique appearance in the choral concert. The display uses light projections to visually represent higher-dimensional geometry and give a tangible form to ideas of quantum science.

Elliott, who developed the project with Rayan and her Quantum Experiences co-lead Dr. Erica Bird (PhD), said The Projection Project was intended to merge areas of interest in mathematics and fine arts.

“While this project was rooted in the hyperbolic geometry research done at quanTA, I wanted to create an experience for those viewing it that embodied a fascination for quantum innovation, through styles, colours, patterns, and mathematical surfaces that felt familiar to me and the rest of my artistic work,” she said.  

Lang said every chance at performing ahead of their trip to New York will add another level of polish to their Carnegie Hall performance, and being able to combine this performance with a return of The Projection Project was a tremendous bonus.

“We see so many connections between music and science and art,” Lang said. “People often associate the arts with being creative, but there’s so much creativity required in science and math to dream and envision and imagine what certain principles and constructs can look like.”

Lang and Rayan both emphasized the knowledge mobilization between USask’s Signature Areas of Research as being critical to the final product at the concert – Lang is the co-lead of the Health & Wellness Signature Area, and Rayan is the lead of the Quantum Innovation Signature Area.

“I'm so very grateful that we will have another showing of The Projection Project, thanks to Dr. Jennifer Lang and the choirs that she so expertly directs,” Rayan said. “The fact that the installation will be featured alongside such enthralling choral music, with each medium reinforcing the other, is something beyond words."

Proceeds from ticket sales will help support the Greystone Singers’ international tour to Carnegie Hall in New York.


For more information, contact:
Daniel Hallen
USask Media Relations