'Star Struck' Concert to Feature New Works by U of G Physicist/Singer

March 19, 2009 - News Release

What do the International Year of Astronomy and jazz music have in common? The answer: University of Guelph professor Diane Nalini de Kerckhove. The physics professor and singer/songwriter has produced a new album of songs inspired by people's fascination with the sky, stars and moon.

She will preview the works March 27 at 8 p.m. in War Memorial Hall. The concert is one of the University's official International Year of Astronomy events. This year was chosen by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and the International Council of Science to mark the 400th anniversary of Galileo's first use of a telescope.

During the concert, Nalini will perform six original, astronomically-inspired works. She will also sing other star - and sky-gazing songs, including Blue Moon, Sting's Valparaiso and Hoagy Carmichael's Stardust.

Every song on Kiss Me Like That offers an entry point into discussing an aspect of astronomy, said Nalini de Kerckhove, who joined U of G in 2005 and teaches, among other things, first-year astronomy.

For example, shortly after arriving at Guelph, she wrote the title song, Kiss Me Like That, which was inspired by a memory aid she teaches her students. "Oh, be a fine girl, kiss me like that" helps students remember names of star classes, from O-type hot stars to more recently discovered brown-dwarf types.

She sang that song on CBC Radio's Sunday Edition late last year after being invited to discuss astronomy and her music with host Michael Enright. "So many people wrote in asking where they could get the song. So I decided to record it and ended up doing a whole project of astronomy-themed songs."

Other songs she wrote for the CD include Winter Eclipse, inspired by last year's lunar eclipse, and Love in Outer Space, which is a homage to the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) project made popular by the late Carl Sagan.

"Are we alone? Searching for signals is like looking for a needle in a haystack, but it's one of the most fundamental questions we can ask," she said.

Thinking about astronomy helps us understand something of our place in nature, said Nalini, a Rhodes scholar who is building Canada’s first one-micron proton microprobe, which she’ll use to study semiconductors and biomaterials.

"We're all made of stardust. Nearly every atom in our body was manufactured inside a star that exploded in a supernova."

Tickets are $20 ($10 students) and are available at the University bookstore, Ground Floor Music in downtown Guelph, the Central Student Association's office or via Ticketpro.

Kiss Me Like That is Nalini's fourth album since she began recording in 2001. As a jazz singer, she has performed for U.S. president Bill Clinton and Sir Paul McCartney and sung at international jazz festivals in the United Kingdom, Malta and Canada. She was nominated for the 2002 Montreal International Jazz Festival's Grand Prix de Jazz and the UK's 2001 Young Jazz Vocalist of the Year Award. Her 2007 concert at the Montreal Jazz Festival was chosen as one of the Montreal Gazette's Top 5 concerts of the Festival.

Maclean's magazine recently ran a page-long feature story on Nalini's new album and her work as a physicist at U of G.

Previews of Kiss Me Like That are available online.

For media questions, contact U of G Communications and Public Affairs Lori Bona Hunt at Ext. 53338,lhunt@uoguelph.ca, or Barry Gunn, Ext. 56982 or bagunn@uoguelph.ca

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