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¡GTC will rock you!

06/04/2004

What could the relationship between Queen’s guitarist and composer, Brian May, and the Gran Telescopio CANARIAS be? Well, as it happens, Dr. May attended his PhD studies in Astrophysics at both the Imperial College in London and the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC), thus maintaining a close relationship with the Islands, and consequently with Spain, which is receiving the musical “We will rock you” in Madrid. In his web page we can find several messages related to the GTC, in which he announces incredible novelties...

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Tue 16 Mar 04

.. it's next year probably, not this ... I have made two amazing friends in recent months, both from Armenia .... one, Garik Israelian, is an astronomer of great note. And the accuracy of my description of him will become more apparent as time goes on.... The other is his friend, Jivan Gasparyan, the world-renowned maestro of the Duduk. For those of you hazy as to what a Duduk might be, it's a small wooden instrument which looks not dissimilar to an English recorder, played with a wooden reed mouthpiece, and sounding uncannily like a human voice when played by an expert.

If you saw the film "Gladiator" you will remember the wonderful moment when, in his dreams, the hero brushes his hand over his native corn, to a haunting sound, almost like a mournful woman's voice... Well, that was Jivan playing his beautiful Duduk - he is acknowledged as the ultimate master of his instrument, much as Andres Segovia was acknowledged master of the Spanish Guitar.

In my world Astronomy and music have ever been intertwined, whether it be with Patrick Moore, universally known as an Astronomer and communicator, yet forever delightfully immersed in his musical compositions and operas, or me living on top of a volcanic ridge in Tenerife, working on my PhD in Astronomy, but at sunset sitting on a rock discovering the riff for Tie Your Mother Down..... Similarly, largely because of his love and understanding of Queen Music I became friendly with Garik, eminent astronomer, and through him, full circle, I met Jivan, and found that he was wonderfully modest and human, and that we musically had a lot in common. We both regard our instruments as our "voice", and for both of us the road has brought us to places we never imagined we would experience. Garik by a strange coincidence is working in the Observatory in Tenerife, with the very same Professor who supported me in my PhD work, Prof. Francisco Sanchez. So the idea evolved (actually Garik's I think) for us to perform some kind of ceremony to open the new extremely large optical telescope - known as the GTC. GTC stands for "Gran Telescope Canaria "..... the new Queen of the Canaries !

Its effective diameter will be 10.4 metres = very large indeed when you realize that for years the largest Telescope mirror was the 200 inch at Mount Palomar. This new generation of optical telescopes often do not have a single giant mirror, though - they combine the light from many smaller mirrors by computer alignment and computer signal processing - the result is as if there were one huge collecting mirror. This method eliminates the problems encountered when a huge piece of glass is tilted - it flexes and in normal circumstances this would produce a distortion of the image. The designers of the Keck (on Mauna Kea in Hawaii) and the GTC have eliminated such imperfections by means of the new technology.

At present plans for our "opening" are in their infancy, and to be honest I wasn't going to say anything publicly just yet, but the story seems to have leaked out, so I thought I would say a few words.

A nice project for me to worry about - ha ha! As for Dr. Garik Israelian,F more later, but I will check with him if it's OK for me to talk about his work publicly... he is involved in fascinating and highly original work, very much musically connected!

Brian

Original letter in Brian May’s web site

· How does a duduk sounds played by Jivan Gasparyan? (MP3 Victor Ganjian web site).

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