Space is the place: UTA planetarium launches new live music series Friday

Thompson stands against a wall, in a purple haze

Tum Sun is Fort Worth-based composer and multi-instrumentalist John Paul Thompson.
Photo: Courtesy Tum Sun

How did live music find a home inside the University of Texas-Arlington’s planetarium? Simply put, the stars aligned.

Fort Worth multi-instrumentalist and composer Tiffiny Costello, who performs under the musical moniker Housekeys, attended a live, improvisational concert featuring Jacob Furr, Clint Kirby, and Ryan Tharp inside the venue last fall. She was immediately struck by the possibilities.

“It was so cool, and what a perfect venue for live music!” Costello said via email. “I’m also a physics major at UTA, so I was able to conveniently connect with McKenna Dowd, the planetarium coordinator, and we started to work on what things could look like if we planned more shows.”

The fruits of those efforts yielded the booking of Tum Sun, the musical project of Fort Worth-based composer and multi-instrumentalist John Paul Thompson, who will fill the UTA planetarium (one of the three largest such rooms in the state) with his ambient, instrumental compositions on Friday.

“This is my first show in a planetarium, which I’m super excited about, but it’s not my first time performing in an alternative venue with ‘atypical’ visuals accompanying the music,” Thompson said via email. “In general, I really like how changing the venue or context of a musical performance can provide a different focus compared to what you’d get at your typical venue.”

What can attendees expect? In addition to the music, food and drinks will be on hand and are included in the price of admission. Oh, and the kind of visual presentation that’s typically the province of big-budget stadium shows.

“One thing that’s interesting when you’re sitting there, watching the stars rush by, is the sense of scale, and the realization of just how small we are, cosmically,” Thompson said via email. “This music is, in some ways, about that — about how, even in the face of issues on a global or universal scales, there’s still room for hope.”

Costello said additional UTA planetarium shows beyond this initial performance are to be determined, but artists who are intrigued by the setting should reach out to her through her website.

“I hope people can feel a bit of a pause or escapism from how overstimulating our world has become,” she said via email. “This show will feel [like] the opposite of that.”

Tum Sun at UTA Planetarium, Arlington. 6 p.m. Friday. Tickets are $35 for the general public, and $30 for UTA faculty, staff and/or students.

Preston Jones is a North Texas freelance writer and regular contributor to KXT. Email him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter (@prestonjones). Our work is made possible by our generous, music-loving members. If you like how we lift up local music, consider becoming a KXT sustaining member right here.