2021 Vision

With the cancellation of the 2020 Cambridge Science Festival,
2020 Vision: I See What You Did There
became the virtual science chorus
2021 Vision: We Should Have Seen That Coming


Directed by David Bass

Rehearsals: Wednesdays, 6:15 to 7:30pm, January - April
  Peabody School, 70 Rindge Ave.
  Cambridge, MA 02140
Performances: During the two weekends of the next Cambridge Science Festival
  Times and locations TBA

202n Vision: We Should Have Seen That Coming is a collection of 20 entertaining and inspiring songs about the miracle of sight and the other sensory systems. Written by eleven contemporary composers, including Michael Ching, David Haines, Bruce Lazarus, Dan Kallman, Lauren Mayer, Graham Treacher, and local composers Andrea Gaudette, Tim Maurice, Ruth Hertzman-Miller, Molly Ruggles, and Stanley Sagov. The program also includes a medley of songs composed by Cambridge Public School students under the direction of David Haines, as part of David's CPS Songwriting Workshops. The entire program will be accompanied by a slideshow of the song lyrics and children's artwork.

The NCFO Science Festival Chorus comprises 40-60 adults and children (ages 6 and up) from Cambridge and surrounding communities.

See below for recordings of the music from 202n Vision and information about the composers and lyricists who wrote it.

Michael Ching Michael Ching is a composer and conductor, who is best known nationally
for his innovative operas. His most recent opera, Speed Dating Tonight! has
already been performed over 25 times. His a cappella opera adaptation of
Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2011) was released on Albany
Records. His newest project, Alice Ryley, A Savannah Ghost Story, had its
premiere in October 2015. He is music director of Nickel City Opera in
Buffalo, NY. Michael lives in Iowa and would enjoy hearing from you about
his pieces at MrBillow@juno.com.
Jennifer L. Knox

Jennifer L. Knox’s fourth book of poems, Days of Shame and Failure, was
published in 2015. The New York Times Book Review said, “it hits, with
deceptive ease, all the poetic marks a reader could want: intellectual
curiosity, emotional impact, beautiful language, surprising revelation
and arresting imagery.” Her poems have appeared four times in the Best
American Poetry
series (1997, 2003, 2006, and 2011) as well as in such
publications as The New York Times and The New Yorker. She currently
teaches at Iowa State University.

202n Vision features one song by Michael Ching and Jennifer L. Knox:

Andrea Gaudette

Andrea Gaudette has been playing music professionally since
age 14, when her first job carried the title "substitute organist"
for her parish church. She holds a bachelor’s degree from New England Conservatory and a master’s in music education from
The Boston Conservatory. Andrea has been teaching piano,
theory, composition, voice, choir, instrumental ensembles and
creative arts to children in a variety of settings since 1988. Andrea
lives in Cambridge with her husband and 21-year-old daughter.
They have been active in NCFO since 2006.

202n Vision features one song by Andrea Gaudette:

David Haines

Trained at Bristol University, London's Guildhall School, and Banff School of Fine Arts,
David Haines has written fifteen music theater works, including The Puzzle Jigs, which was
performed by NCFO in 2003 and 2008. He has worked with many thousands of schoolchildren
and has a special interest in using song to enhance the science curriculum. The NCFO Science
Festival Chorus performed David's science oratorios Lifetime: Songs of Life and Evolution
in 2007 and 2012 and Powers of Ten in 2008 and 2014. The latter was the official opening
event of the first USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington DC. David has been the
Cambridge Science Festival's Songwriter-in-Residence from 2011 to 2017. He lives and teaches
in Teignmouth, Devon in southwestern England, a stunningly beautiful town that is well
worth visiting. If you do, David invites you to stay at his lovely Airbnb.

Rachael Shearmur

Rachael Shearmur was a member of the choir which premiered David
Haines’s Lifetime in the UK in 2004. She studied Law at the other Cambridge
and never really expected one day to be writing song lyrics. She and
David share a passion for sea swimming, and it was the bioluminescence
which they saw in the nighttime waters around David’s home town of
Teignmouth which inspired her to write a poem touching on the science
behind the phenomenon. David asked if he could set it to music, and they
have since then collaborated on a number of songs.

202n Vision features five songs by David Haines, plus a collection of songs written by David in collaboration with young children during his songwriting workshops in the Cambridge Public Schools:

  • Cataracts (world premiere) – David's body is not exactly aging gracefully. One of the ways it is breaking down is the clouding of the lenses in his eyes from not wearing sunglasses enough on sunny days. No problem, the eye surgeon will replace his spent lenses with plastic ones, just as soon as NHS says his name has come up on the list.
    [ performance audio / performance with slide show / demo ]
  • Evolutionary Eye (Lyrics by Rachael Shearmur; US premiere) – Even some primitive unicellular organisms are able to detect light. The evolution from primitive eyespots to image-perceiving organs began during the Ediacaran Period, at the end of the Precambrian Era. The sudden diversification of fauna in the fossil record at the start of the Cambrian Period (the Cambrian Explosion), may have been an evolutionary response to predators obtaining the power of sight.
    [ virtual performance audio / virtual performance video with lyrics / demo ]​
  • Optical Illusions (world premiere) – The eyes can tell the brain about the light being project onto the retinas, but it is up to the brain to interpret that information. Sometimes images are ambiguous, sometimes they overwhelm the brain with more information that it can process, and sometimes the brain imposes its expectations on the information it receives. When the results are not disasterous, they can be highly entertaining.
    [ performance audio / performance with slide show / demo ]
  • Single Photon (world premiere) – our eyes have evolved such a high level of sensitivity that they can, on occasion, detect a single photon aimed at the retina. Humans have yet to build a mechanical device that can match this feat at ambient conditions.
    [ performance audio / performance with slide show / demo ]
  • Six Dots – Blinded as a toddler, Louis Braille adapted a military code of raised dots and dashes into an alphabet for the blind in 1824, while only 15 years old. Neglected in his lifetime, Louis Braille’s brilliant invention has transformed the lives of generations of blind people the world over. Written in collaboration with members of Teignmouth Community Choir, Devon, UK.
    [ 2011 performance audio / 2011 performance with slide show ]
  • Songs written with young school children (world premiere) – Every year from 2007-2019, David Haines worked with about 50 classrooms in the Cambridge schools, guiding the students as they write a song about some aspect of their science curriculum. These are some songs that touch on sensory systems:
    • Animal Camouflage – Camouflaged creatures blend in so well with their surroundings that they must use senses other than sight to find each other. [demo]
    • Howler Monkey Senses – Howler monkeys have calls that can be heard five km away and can smell food 2 km away. [demo]
    • My Senses in the Rain – There are unique sights, sounds, sensations, smells and even tastes that we associate with a rainy day. [demo]
    • Searching for Delicious – What we think of as "flavor" is actually a combination of smell and sweet, sour, salt, bitter and umami taste receptors. [demo]
    • Signals with Senses – People, like animals, use all of their senses to communicate. [demo]
      performance audio / performance with slide show ]

Ruth Hertzman-Miller

Ruth Hertzman-Miller is a Boston-area
physician and musician who has studied
composition with John Stewart at Harvard,
John Morrison at Longy, and Stephen Savage
at New England Conservatory. She performs
regularly with NCFO and was last seen as
an a cappella singing droid in the 2019
production of Space Opera.

Meg Muckenhoupt

Meg Muckenhoupt works for OpenBiome
in Cambridge. She is widely published, but she
feels her finest work was “Horton Sees a Pluto,”
which appeared in the Annals of Improbable
Research. Remember, a planet’s a planet no
matter how small. She is delighted to hear her
lyrics debut in this year’s Cambridge Science

202n Vision features one song by Ruth Hertzman-Miller and Meg Muckenhoupt:

  • Topsy-Turvy Vision (world premiere) – An image projected onto the retina is flipped upside down by the lens, then half of the optic nerve fibers from each eye cross over to the other side of the brain in the optic chiasm. If all goes well, the brain somehow makes sense of the jumble and interprets it as a single right side up and stereoscopic object. Cha cha cha!
    [ virtual performance audio / virtual performance video with lyrics / demo ]

Daniel Kallman Daniel Kallman's compositions for orchestra, winds, and choir
are widely published and performed across North America,
Europe and East Asia. His steady stream of commissions includes
music for worship, theater, dance, and the young musician.
Kallman has composed for the National Symphony Orchestra,
the Air Force Academy Band, the Hong Kong Children's Choir,
the Minnesota Orchestra, A Prairie Home Companion,
and a wide variety of vocal and instrumental ensembles.
The principal publishers of Kallman’s music are Morning Star
Music (church choir), Hal Leonard (choral), Shawnee/Mark
Foster Press (children’s choir), Boosey and Hawkes (winds and
choral), and Lauren Keiser Music (orchestral). All of Kallman’s
works are catalogued on his website.
Christine Kallman Christine Kallman is a playwright, lyricist, poet and musician.
Her work has been supported and produced by arts
organizations, theaters, schools, colleges and churches. She has
taught music and theater to young people in the classroom,
theater camp, and private studio. Among her works are full-
length plays, one-acts, and musicals, including Donata’s Gift, a
holiday musical based on the Italian legend of Old Befana. Her
most recent play, A Falling Out, is set at the time of the Cuban
Missile Crisis and was presented last spring in a staged reading
supported by the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council through a
McKnight Artists Grant. In addition to writing song lyrics, Kallman
has received several commissions to write hymn texts.

202n Vision features one song by Daniel and Christine Kallman:

Bruce Lazarus

Composer Bruce Lazarus's music includes pieces for piano, solo voice,
chorus, chamber ensembles, as well as several songs commissioned by
NCFO. His works range from the 45-minute “celestial” piano cycle, Musical
Explorations of the Messier Catalogue of Star Clusters and Nebulae, to his
entertaining Carrolling: The Lewis Carroll Project. He studied composition
at Juilliard, where he earned his B.M. and M.M. in music composition and
theory, and later earned his PhD in music theory at Rutgers University.
Dr. Lazarus is Music Director for the Joffrey Ballet School.

Bobbi Katz

Author and lyricist Bobbi Katz once told Contemporary Authors: "I write for
children because I hope to join those writers and artists who delight,
sensitize, and give hope to children." A former editor at Random House,
Katz has had success publishing her own rhyming picture books for elementary
school students. These range from the sublime, such as American History Poems
and We, the People, to the outright ridiculous, such as A Rumpus of Rhymes:
A Book of Noisy Poems. Whatever the tone, Katz uses rhyme to catch children's
attention in order to teach and entertain them. American History Poems and
We, the People introduce young students to important figures in American history
as well as fictitious representative citizens from previous centuries.

202n Vision features three songs by Bruce Lazarus:

  • The Dizzy Song (world premiere) – Our ears do more than just hear. The semicircular canals and otolyth organs in the inner ear detect movement, acceleration, head position and spatial orientation, so that we can maintain our balance, stabilize our head and body during movement, and maintain posture. When the vestibular system goes awry, you literally don't know which way is up.
    [ performance audio / performance with slide show / demo ]
  • ROY G BIV – Isaac Newton divided the visible spectrum into seven colors, identifiable by this acronym. Newton chose the number seven based on a mystical belief that the number of colors should match the number of notes in a musical scale, the number of days in the week, and the number of known objects in the solar system.
    [2015 Broad performance audio / 2015 Peabody performance audio / 2015 performance with slide show / demo ]​
  • That's How Things Are Seen (world premiere) – What we think we see is actually an intricate pas de deux between what the eyes send to the brain and how the brain interpret, interpolates and extrapolates that information.
    [ performance audio / performance with slide show / demo ]​

Tim Maurice

Tim Maurice is a classically trained musician working as an arranger,
music director, and pianist. He has written and recorded music for
several independent film projects, ranging from short films to web series.
His latest, “Searchdog,” screened at the 2016 Palm Springs International
Film Festival and was an audience-voted “Best in the Fest” selection.
Born in Maine, Tim attended Bates College, where he studied piano, and
Berklee College of Music, where he earned a B.M. in Film Scoring. Tim has
done extensive orchestration and arranging work for NCFO in the past,
and this is his fourth original composition for the group.

202n Vision features one song by Tim Maurice:

  • Perfect Pitch (world premiere) – With the right genes and early immersion in music, you would be able to identify pitches as easily as you could identify colors. Tim has perfect pitch, and when he was a child, different notes seemed to him to have their own personalities. They were his friends.
    [ performance audio / virtual performance with slide show / demo ]
Lauren Mayer

Lauren Mayer is a California-based, award-winning writer and
entertainer, who has performed hundreds of custom-written
programs. She is a summa cum laude graduate of Yale University,
the founder of Curriculum Rocks (producing award-winning
children's educational music), the writer of several published
musicals, and a five-time recipient of the San Francisco Cabaret
Gold Award. She has recorded five albums of comedy songs and
writes weekly topical comedy songs for her YouTube channel with
almost 2,200 subscribers (thus disproving her teenage son’s claim
that she’d never get a channel going because ‘over 100 views is
viral for old people’).

One Whole Step for Man features three songs by Lauren Mayer:

  • The Nose Knows (world premiere) – When you ask Lauren to write a song about why humans evolved to perceive certain odors as unpleasant, of course she going to come back with a funk number.
    [ performance audio / performance with slide show / demo ]​
  • The Power of How We Feel (world premiere) – Our sense of touch provides practical information that helps us navigate the world, but touching each other also releases hormones that enhance our sense of well-being. This is partly why social distancing during the Time of Covid-19 exacts such an emotional toll on those trying to stay safe from the virus.
    [ performance audio / performance with slide show / demo ]​
Molly Ruggles

A native of Massachusetts, Molly Ruggles has played
piano her whole life, composed since she was 4, and
is a vocalist and recording artist. Molly performs
regularly throughout the Boston area. She has taught
songwriting classes at MIT, and her music is featured
regularly at the UU church of Medford. When not singing,
playing, listening, teaching, composing, or writing plays,
she writes about educational technology at MIT and
spends time with her beloved daughter.

One Whole Step for Man features one song by Molly Ruggles:

  • All About Tears (world premiere) – Basal and reflex tears contain chemicals that lubricate, wash and disinfect the surface of your eyes, keeping them healthy. Emotionally-induced psychogenic tears also contain high levels of stress hormones, as the body uses this pathway to moderate levels in the body. That's why a good cry feels so restorative and helps keep the rest of you healthy.
    [ performance audio / performance with slide show / demo ]​

Stanley Sagov Born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1944, Stanley Sagov is a dazzling jazz
pianist and composer who is skilled on a number of other music instruments
and who is also skilled with surgical instruments, as he simultaneously has a
full time career as a medical doctor. He constantly amazes his colleagues in
both music and in medicine with his ability to lead such an intense dual life
both as a physician and as a musician. Dr. Sagov produces enough music
to fill the contents of a full CD almost every month in his home studio. He is
also a top notch photographer who shoots nature, people and places with the
eyes of an unusually sensitive personality. Despite devoting his life to healing,
ironically Dr. Sagov is so talented it just makes you sick.
David Bass David Bass is a composer and lyricist who feels
he needs no introduction. Many who have been
introduced to him feel the same way.

202n Vision features one song by Stanley Sagov and David Bass:

  • Four Eyes (world premiere) – Umm... we haven't written this one yet. But we will, promise.
    [ performance audio / performance video / demo ]
Graham Treacher

Graham Treacher is a composer and conductor living in London.
He has founded or co-founded a number of organizations, focused
on the performance of contemporary music and bringing this music
to students of all ages. Among these groups are the Royal
Academy of Music Contemporary Music Group, the London New Music
Singers, and Music for Children. Recently he has devoted much
of his time to composition and to the editing of late Renaissance
and Baroque works, including Pallavicino and Gesualdo. Graham
is also an enthusiastic mountaineer and rock climber.

202n Vision features one song by Graham Treacher:

  • The Song of the Octopus – Octopus and squid eyes look remarkably like our own, but they evolved completely differently. Our eyes grew from brain tissue, while cephalopod eyes developed from light-sensitive patches on the skin, a classic example of convergent evolution.
    [ 2018 performance audio / 2018 performance with slide show / demo]