My kickstarter rewards for To Shiver the Sky arrived so I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to talk about Christopher Tin’s new album and why I think it could not have been released at a better time.
To Shiver the Sky the album
To Shiver the Sky is the third studio album of composer Christopher Tin. It was the highest funded classical Kickstarter ever in 2018, a title worthy of holding given the anticipation of a new studio album about man’s dream to fly, with the epic opening of Civilisation VI, Sogno di Volare (the dream of flight) as its opening song.
Note that the last time Christopher Tin composed the opening for a Civ game (Baba Yetu) this song was the first Video Game soundtrack that won a Grammy and the subsequent album, Calling all Dawns also received one for best classical crossover album. So anticipations were high.
The album was officially released on August 21 2020 and I daresay that it is exactly what we need this year. Amongst other disasters we are facing a global pandemic that is causing difficulties for all of us. Difficulties that are, in my opinion, questioning on a fundamental level what we are doing with our lives and our planet. And though we might have the luxury of modern technologies which make distant interaction easier we are restricted in the way we handle social interactions because of physical distancing.
“So what has this to do with the recently released To Shiver the Sky?” I hear you ask. Well, just about everything.
If you are not familiar with the album I have made a short overview below of the tracks, their narrative sources and what I think the music relates to on an emotional level.
If you have listened to the album with an open mind and heart I think the column to the right speaks for it self. But music is deeply personal so it is totally fine if you do not agree with me.
If you have not listened to the album it I highly encourage you to do so. Block an hour and listen with an open heart, and do not be afraid to feel something. If you want to get a quick overview of the thematic I also posted the album trailer below.
Again: I have listed the track and their sources here so you can see where the inspiration for these came from. In the column to the right you’ll find what I think it relates to on an emotional level after listening the past weeks. So chances are I might revise or refine some in the future.
|Track/Movement-Title||Based on||Relates to|
|1 Sogno Di Volare||Leonardo Da Vinci’s writings on flight||People’s (unspoken) wishes to achieve something in their lives|
|2 The Heavenly Kingdom||Hildegard von Bingen: Scivias||Aspiration to reach the divine, the heavenly skies|
|3 Daedelus and Icarus||Ovid: Metamorphoses||To execute on your bold plan but with the warning not to over extend yourself|
|4 The Fall||Dante Alighierei: Divine Comedy||When we fall to our lowest and somehow find the courage to pick ourselves up again|
|5 Astronomy||Nicolaus Copernicus: De revolutionibius Orbium Coelestium||What it feels like to reach new hights and be astonished by the (new) possibilities|
|6 To the Stars||Jules Verne: De la Terre a la Lune||Creating/achieving with the tools at hand|
|7 Oh The Humanity||Ferdinand von Zeppelin speeches||If corruption or an external power takes your dream to a low point, will you follow it again|
|8 Courage||Amelia Earhart: Courage||Have faith that we can achieve what we set out to do|
|9 Become Death|
Bhagavad Gita, quoted by Robert Oppenheimer
|The landscape we are able to create and destroy via our technology|
|10 The Power of Spirit||Yuri Gargarin quotes||Resilience of us humans to carry on|
|11 We Choose to go to the Moon||John F. Kennedy: Address at Rice University on the Nation’s Space Effort||To speak your heart’s wish aloud to gather others behind your cause|
My thoughts on it now
As mentioned before these are difficult times for many of us. And while it may take a while to find the new norm, I think this album encapsulates a few of the basic questions and emotions people are struggling with a bit more then usual.
If I were to pick one of the tracks which represents our species right now I would pick The Power of Spirit. While we are facing one of the largest health crises of our short existence amazing things have also happened this year. The two vessels that have been launched to Mars may be the most contradicting thing we will remember about 2020. And to me that is a heartwarming thought. In a year full of metaphorical darkness we still were able to execute on our power to achieve our dreams.
To me, the dream of flight is an allegory of our deepest wishes to be important to someone else. And while we may not know who this person will be, we can not give up. I will not give up. Because it is clear to me that I have a part to play. Be it via my little soapbox here or via my book when it is finished, I do not know. But I choose to aim for the stars. When I have to land on the moon with no option to travel further I know that I have come a long way with my dream of flight and that I have shivered the sky.