A Quarter Of A Million Miles

Music and Films inspired by astronaut Michael Collins' "Carrying The Fire"

How Vainly Men Themselves Amaze featuring Natasha Marsh and Jack Liebeck

For the first time in history, man was going to propel himself past escape velocity, breaking the clutch of our earth’s gravitational field and coasting into outer space as he had never done before. After TLI there would be three men in the solar system who would have to be counted apart from all the other billions, three who were in a different place, whose motion obeyed different rules, and whose habitat had to be considered a separate planet. The three could examine the earth and the earth could examine them, and each would see the other for the first time. This the people in mission control knew; yet there were no immortal words on the wall proclaiming the fact, only a thin green line, representing Apollo 8 climbing, speeding, vanishing - leaving us stranded behind on this planet, awed by the fact that we humans had finally had an option to stay or to leave - and had chosen to leave.

Michael Collins

The Thought of Floating In Space - featuring Jack Liebeck on solo violin

A guy should be told to go out on the end of his string and simply gaze around - what guru gets to meditate for a whole earth’s worth? I think nirvana must be at an altitude of 250 miles, not down below in the teeming streets of Calcutta or up above in the monotonous black void. I am in the cosmic arena, the place to gain a celestial perspective; it remains only to slow down long enough to capture it, even a teacupful will do, will last a lifetime below.

Michael Collins

About QOMM

Simon Lacey, 2013

I was inspired to write the first pieces for A Quarter Of A Million Miles after reading Michael Collins’ book ‘Carrying The Fire’. Collins was the Command Module pilot on the Apollo 11 mission, sometimes described as 'the forgotten man', orbiting the moon while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin descended in the Lunar Module. The American aviator Charles Lindbergh wrote to Collins shortly after their return to earth that his part in the mission was one of 'greater profundity...you have experienced an aloneness unknown to man before.'

Collins' poetic and eloquent account conveys the infinity and beauty of space and tells the story of humans pushing themselves up to (and possibly beyond) what was thought possible. The style and sound of the music is an attempt to evoke this story – melodic classical influences combined with a modern, cinematic production, half of the pieces featuring a classical soprano and the others having a solo violin at the forefront. Real instruments are combined with sound effects, atmospheres, synths and snatches of speech from the Apollo mission to give the pieces a unique flavour.

The first recording sessions for A Quarter Of A Million Miles took place in London in December 2012 with some very exciting and talented collaborators and the album is scheduled to be completed in 2013. The soprano parts are sung by classical chart topper and Classical Brit nominee Natasha Marsh and the violin solos were performed by Jack Liebeck, who was recently featured on the soundtracks to the films Jane Eyre and Anna Karenina and was a Classical Brit winner in 2010 for Young British Classical Performer.


  • Jack Liebeck

    Jack Liebeck

  • Simon Lacey

    Simon Lacey

  • Natasha Marsh

    Natasha Marsh


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Excerpt from CARRYING THE FIRE:AN ASTRONAUT’S JOURNEY by Michael Collins. Copyright (c)1974 by Michael Collins. Used by permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC. www.fsgbooks.com

* Video courtesy of the Image Science and Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center http://eol.jsc.nasa.gov/Videos/CrewEarthObservationVideos