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New album showcases Interlochen faculty guitarists

Guitarists Matthew Cochran (left) and Matthew McAllister perform as the duo Cochran & McAllister
Guitarists Matthew Cochran (left) and Matthew McAllister perform as the duo Cochran & McAllister

The new album "Pale Blue Dot" by classical guitar duo Cochran & McAllister was recorded in The Cathedral Barn at Traverse City's Historic Barns Park

Classical guitar duo Cochran & McAllister are releasing their debut album today (June 28).

Matthew Cochran is the American half of Cochran & McAllister, and he is currently Instructor of Guitar at Interlochen Center for the Arts.

Matthew McAllister is the European half of the duo, and he is the Classical Guitar Lecturer at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. He is also a regularly featured guest artist and lecturer at Interlochen Center for the Arts.

The new album is named "Pale Blue Dot" after Carl Sagan's book "Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space," which turn was inspired by a 1990 photo of Earth taken by the Voyager 1 space probe.

"Pale Blue Dot" is also the name of an original composition by Matthew Cochran that is featured on the album.

Another "galactic" piece on the new album is the duo's new arrangement of Hans Zimmer's music from the film "Interstellar."

Other pieces on "Pale Blue Dot" include Cochran's arrangements of jazz composers Chick Corea, Pat Metheny and Ralph Towner.

“We wanted to make a record that follows a narrative,” McAllister said. “Carl Sagan’s famous presentation about a photo taken from the Voyager satellite in which the Earth is a tiny little speck in an enormous galaxy - we just found that to be a humbling and inspiring concept.”

The duo recorded the album last fall in The Cathedral Barn at Traverse City's Historic Barns Park.

They have since performed music from the album in a variety of live venues ranging from traditional concert halls to planetariums, often supplemented with videos and images provided by NASA.

“It just seemed like a logical extension of the project to find visuals that match the expansiveness of the subject matter,” Cochran said, “which, ironically, makes us feel very, very small by comparison.”

Cochran & McAllister gave a recital last summer (2023) during Interlochen's Guitar Intensive featuring music from the yet-to-be-recorded album project.

"Pale Blue Dot" is available today on all streaming platforms.

Dr. Amanda Sewell is IPR's music director.