Moonrise, a combination of music and film, explores our fascination with the moon

Moonrise, a film about mankind’s facination with the moon, features lunar images and timelapse photography.
Moonrise, a film about mankind’s facination with the moon, features lunar images and timelapse photography. Courtesy photo

The moon, Jose Francisco Salgado contends, holds equal mystique for scientists and romantics.

“The moon is universal. It’s the same for everyone,” Salgado, an astronomer and visual artist, said in a phone interview. “The moon has always been an object of interest and a source of inspiration.”

In his third guest appearance with the Wichita Symphony Orchestra, Salgado – executive director and co-founder of KV 265, a nonprofit science and arts foundation – will share the magic of the moon in two performances next weekend.

He has created the film “Moonrise” to be projected as the orchestra plays Ravel’s “Daphnis & Chloe” Suites 1 and 2. (The first half of the program is Bartok’s “Concerto for Orchestra.”)

“The film is about mankind’s fascination with the moon,” he said.

Each of the six movements in the piece tackles a different aspect of the moon, including the various forms we see on the earth as well as lunar eclipses and closeup images shot from satellite and spacecraft. Many of those photos were taken by Salgado.

There are also various “Hollywood depictions” of the moon, he added.

The coup of the piece, Salgado said, is 16mm footage shot by NASA astronauts on the surface of the moon.

“Moonrise,” which premiered in 2011, was scheduled this year to mark the 50th anniversary of man landing on the moon, symphony officials said when announcing the 2018-19 season.

Curating the photographs, video and film to compile into “Moonrise” was “fun,” Salgado said, but also a great deal of work.

“There are so many things we can show for the moon,” he said.

Salgado said he doesn’t create a storyboard for his visuals but begins when he knows he has enough to work with.

“What I want to do before I sit down is to start editing,” he said. “I want to know I have all the material that I need. I don’t want to sit down and think that I’m missing something.”

Salgado calls his work “a soundtrack in reverse,” picking images to coincide with the music rather than the vice versa way it’s done for movies.

“In this case, the idea of making a film about the moon came first,” he said. “And then when we heard the music, we knew it would work with the visuals.”

He is proudest of the movement that includes the Apollo footage.

“If someone hadn’t heard the music, it would easily look as if it were composed for the visuals,” he said. “The synchronization is tight.”

“Moonrise” was one of Salgado’s first pieces that married science with music. He now has 10 different movies that he offers to symphonies around the world.

“I’m working on No. 11 and No. 12,” he said, “and pretty soon on No. 13.”

One of those is devoted to the night skies from around the world, including the most colorful and the most desolate.

“I want to show that contrast between the artificial world and the natural world at night,” he said.

Wichita Symphony Orchestra

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 16; 3 p.m. Sunday, March 17

Where: Century II concert hall, 225 W. Douglas

Tickets: $25-$80, from wichitasymphony.org, by phone at 316-267-7658 or at the symphony box office at Century II