Singing about science, Hai-Ting Chinn unites two worlds

Singing about science, Hai-Ting Chinn unites two worlds

Mezzo-soprano Hai-Ting Chinn performs “Science Fair: An Opera With Experiments”. Photo: Kate Milford

The presenter looks like any number of popular science analysts you’ve seen on TV or in person. She has the white coat, the props – oversized models of molecules, vinegar and baking soda, a stone – and the retractable pointer.

The difference is that she sings.

In “Science Fair”, billed as “an opera with experiments”, mezzo-soprano Hai-Ting Chinn holds the stage for 80 minutes, with only pianist Erika Switzer for company. In musical phrases as transparent as they are adorable, Chinn explains the Big Bang and the formation of the solar system, explores the structure of sound, and enlists a child volunteer from the audience to help him extract DNA molecules from a strawberry.

It’s a virtuoso hybrid of science and art, and Chinn’s performance – recorded in 2016 at the Here Center for the Arts in New York City, which commissioned the piece – is the next offering in the streaming series from Marsh, preceded and followed by live conversations with Chinn.

“Science Fair,” said Chinn, was born out of a desire to synthesize his own interests in both fields.


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