by Noel Rubinton, Research Communications Manager
Benjamin Nacar, a systems programmer for Brown CS and also a pianist, composer, and music arranger, took his audiences to the moon and back with three concerts this month in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon mission.
Twice at the RISD Museum and once at Brown’s Cogut Institute for the Humanities, Nacar performed piano works by six composers in a concert he curated around connections drawn to the moon. Ranging from the Beethoven’s “Moonlight” sonata to three pieces by Claude Debussy with inspiration from the moon, Nacar gave his commentary and then musical interpretations. Nacar said he developed the program after a suggestion last winter from WaterFire founder and executive artistic director Barnaby Evans (Brown ’75), who was developing a festival of events throughout the month of July to mark the lunar landing anniversary.
For Johann Strauss’ “On the Beautiful Blue Danube,” Nacar did an arrangement of the classic piece that gained prominence when it was included by director Stanley Kubrick in his 1968 “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Nacar closed the concerts with Vladimir Horowitz’ arrangement of John Philip Sousa’s “The Stars and Stripes Forever,” which Nacar said was a “toast to all the men and women of NASA who made all this possible.” He especially called out the three Apollo 11 astronauts for their courage and as “true heroes.”
Nacar graduated from Brown in 2012 as a computer science and classics concentrator. He was active as a musician while an undergraduate and has continued to be active in Rhode Island’s music scene, including since he joined Brown CS full-time in 2015. Nacar composes and performs music, including writing “Bruin Overture” in 2015 in honor of Brown’s 250th anniversary. He wrote the soundtrack for the award-winning animated short film created by Brown students and Professor Barbara Meier, Toymaker, in 2017.
For more information, click the link that follows to contact Brown CS Communication Outreach Specialist Jesse C. Polhemus.