English Violinist Jack Liebeck, Professor Brian Cox OBE and Qld's Arts and Science Minister Ian Walker.
English Violinist Jack Liebeck, Professor Brian Cox OBE and Qld’s Arts and Science Minister Ian Walker. Photo: Tobi Loftus.

By Tobi Loftus.

It was a star-studded project two years in the making.

Journey Through the Cosmos, presented by rock star turned astrophysicist Professor Brian Cox, premièred at QPAC on Thursday night to a sold-out crowd.

The concert, which merges music and science together, featured the Queensland Symphony Orchestra (QSO) performing Gustav Holst’s The Planets Suite in full.

Professor Cox said the key message was exploration is “fundamental to the human spirit”.

“It’s the very foundation of our civilisation,” Professor Cox said.

“It’s one of the great stories of exploration in human history… the story of Voyager and then the probes that went after it.”

The story of Voyager is brought to life in a new violin concerto by Academy Award winning film composer Dario Marianelli.

Mr Marianelli said he was inspired by the “shivers down his spine” he felt when learning something new, or hearing a piece of music, for the first time.

“For me, writing music is partially about finding the connection between those feelings,” Mr Marianelli said.
Mr Marianelli said scientific research and art share a strong bond.

“(Science is) almost creating what you are discovering with an act of creativity,” he said.

“Which is very similar to creating art.”

English Violinist Jack Liebeck said bringing science and arts together was tremendously powerful.

“For us it’s a tremendously powerful thing to get people to rejoice in stuff they don’t know, because it’s easy to get people to do stuff they do know.”

The event was funded by the Queensland State Government’s Super Star fund.

Despite welcoming the move from the State Government, Professor Cox said Federal Government funding cuts to science were “short-sighted”.

“The World Bank analysis in investment in Research and Development (R&D) says for every dollar you invest in R&D there is a $40 return over the lifetime of the knowledge generated,” Professor Cox said.

“Forty to one.

“It’s very difficult to point to any other investment which gives you that level of return and that’s widely accepted.”

Professor Cox said there is a huge shortage across the globe of Scientists and Engineers and PhD funding is essential to attracting people to Science.

“Some of the children… hopefully will have their imagination captured as I have by astronomy,” Professor Cox said.

“They might say I want to do that, I’m going to study hard at school now, I want to be an astronomer, I want to be involved in the space missions that go to look for life on mars or whatever it is.

“If they can see no route to that then it will make it far less likely they will move into those areas, to the long term detriment to our economies.”

Mr Liebeck said funding is an issue around the world for the arts well.

“In the arts it’s the spiritual wellbeing of your population, which is something you can’t put a price on,” he said.