For the past eight years, Rachael Worby has been producing some of the most innovative symphonic music programs in the nation as the founding member and artistic director of MUSE/IQUE. The acclaimed conductor of the Pasadena-based “counter-conventional orchestra” blends traditional classical compositions and performers with innovative elements of jazz and dance to create shows that draw fans from across generational lines. 

Worby will be leading her artistic ensemble through the latest in their “Uncorked” series of shows in which they perform in unusual public settings. At Caltech’s Millikan Pond is “Swinging/Stars,” and its twin themes of music and space should provide plenty of magic leading into yet another summer series of shows at the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens in San Marino. The show was originally scheduled for May 18 but due to a forecast of rain was rescheduled for June 16.

“Music and space are the twin realms of human imagination, and, incredibly, they both serve as the repository and the wellspring of our dreams,” says Worby. “They are both spectacular representations of mathematics and physics, and yet they both have spiritual meaning that defies any scientific explanation. 

“From the beginning of humanity, as we have sought to understand the universe, we have intertwined the exploration of songs and space,” she adds.  “For all these reasons, and because Pasadena is a leading community in both arenas, we thought it would be thrilling to explore with our audiences the intersection of art and the stars. ‘Swinging Stars’ concludes the 2018-2019 Uncorked series, and we kick off the summer series on July 6, where we will explore the interplay of movement, images and music.” 

The “Swinging/Stars” show will feature space-themed classics including Elton John’s “Rocket Man,” Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon,” and even children’s favorites like “When You Wish Upon a Star.” They’ll be performing them with an eclectic array of guest artists including pianist extraordinaire Alan Steinberger, inspired bassist Michael Valerio, percussion prince Ted Atkatz and guitar virtuoso Lawrence Juber as well as the ARORA Acapella Group.  

Worby expressed particular excitement over the participation of Juber, as he will be spotlighted performing a medley of Beatles songs about the sun. But providing a more substantial element to the evening is Dr. Michael Watkins, the director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and formerly mission manager for the Curiosity Mars Rover mission.

 “He will be sharing with our audience the unbelievable wonders of space exploration and reminding us that the worldwide headquarters for pioneering the great beyond just happens to be right here in our own backyard,” notes Worby.  

 Looking ahead, MUSE/IQUE’s summer season will be themed around the idea of “music in motion,” with a show called “Moving/Pictures” that celebrates America’s greatest film scores and composers on July 6, “Train/Glory” showcasing trains as mechanical muses on Aug. 3, and “Band/Together” deconstructing the modern day process of scoring film music on Aug. 24. All three shows will be at the Huntington, providing a spectacular scenic backdrop for the shows and a great place to picnic in the hours leading up to performances.

The summer’s special guests include Joshua Henry, the Tony-nominated star of “Carousel,” singing in the “Moving/Pictures” show; Liv Redpath, one of the most promising young soprano leggero singers on the opera and concert circuit today, in “Train/Glory”; and the piano duet of Anderson and Roe and four dancers from American Ballet Theatre in “Band/Together.”  


MUSE/IQUE will perform “Swinging/Stars” on  June 16 at 7 p.m. at the Millikan Pond at Caltech, 1200 E. California Blvd., Pasadena. Tickets are $70. Call (626) 539-7035 or visit muse-ique.org.