'Planets' kicks off CSO Masterworks series - Sept. 26

'Planets' kicks off CSO Masterworks series - Sept. 26

September 26th, 2013 by Casey Phillips in Chattnow Music

This NASA image shows a montage of the 12 planets and celestial bodies in our solar system.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

IF YOU GO

• What: Chattanooga Symphony & Opera's Masterworks concert, "The Planets"

• When: 7:30 p.m. today, Sept. 26

• Where: Tivoli Theatre, 709 Broad St.

• Admission: $33-$81; $15 students with valid ID

• Phone: 423-267-8583

• Website: chattanoogasymphony.org

THE PROGRAM

Descriptions are from Steve Hollingsworth via chattanoogasymphony.org.

¦ "Fanfare for the Common Man" by Aaron Copland, circa 1942. "Using only brass and percussion, Copland stirs the soul in a unique way. Despite our overexposure to the music, on TV and elsewhere in popular culture, its appeal endures."

• "Appalachian Spring" by Aaron Copland, circa 1944. "We hear in the music the joys and trials of a 19th-century couple in their new farmhouse. Although the suite is divided into eight sections, the music proceeds without pause."

• "The Planets" by Gustav Holst, circa 1918. "Holst ... cast himself against type in 'The Planets.' It was a mature work of a type he never revisited."

To kick off its Masterworks Concert series, the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera is taking a cue from NASA to help the audience slip the surly bonds of Earth and explore the heavens.

Accompanying tonight's performance of English composer Gustav Holst's seminal seven-movement suite "The Planets" will be footage provided by local company Video Ideas Productions. The imagery will show historic moments in space travel, imagery of the planets and clips from President John F. Kennedy's 1961 speech announcing America's plans to land on the moon.

CSO conductor Kayoko Dan helped Video Ideas to assign cues to the footage before its debut in Kentucky two years ago, and she says the pairing of such moving imagery with Holst's grandiose musical score is a powerful combination.

"The first time I saw it, it brought tears to my eyes," she says. "We thought it would pair up nicely with all the space themes going on here."

Each of the seven movements in Holst's opus is designed to reflect a planet, both the heavenly bodies and its associated mythological deity. Dan has conducted parts of "The Planets" before, notably "Mars" and "Jupiter," but this is her first time tackling the whole work, which stretches a daunting 60 minutes.

Pacing the piece is the greatest hurdle, Dan says, she and her musicians will have to overcome.

"It's a huge piece, [and] there's a grandness to this music," she says. "When you have one hour of music, you have to know when to give it all and when to reserve a little bit so it's not all-out all the time."

In addition to "The Planets," the CSO also will be performing a pair of pieces by American composer Aaron Copland: "Fanfare for the Common Man" and "Appalachian Spring." Although neither of these pieces has direct thematic ties to astronomy like "The Planets," Video Ideas' footage will accompany it as well.

Ultimately, Dan says, the hope is for the visuals to enhance the music, not distract from it.

"I think the music itself is just wonderful, but the video adds more dramatic elements," she says.

Concertgoers also should be excited to see the Masterworks debut of a pair of high-profile symphony additions: concertmaster Holly Mulcahy and principal flutist Kristen Holritz.

"We're just hoping that they will add all new excitement to the season," Dan says.

THE REST OF THE SERIES

• OCT. 10: "Lincoln Portrait," featuring works by Samuel Barber, John Adams and Aaron Copland with narration by Mayor Andy Berke.

• NOV. 14: "Mozart Requiem," featuring members of the CSO Chorus and UTC Chamber Singers performing Mozart's Symphony No. 38 and "Requiem."

• JAN. 9: "Beethoven's 7th," featuring guest violinist Jennifer Frautschi performing Beethoven's Symphony No. 7, Felix Mendelssohn's "Violin Concerto" and Osvaldo Golijov's "Last Round for String Nonet."

• JAN. 30: "All Brahms," featuring guest pianist Geoffrey Duce performing Johannes Brahms' Symphony No. 3 and Piano Concerto No. 1.

• MARCH 15: "Beethoven and Prokofiev," featuring guest artists from String Theory performing Beethoven's "Triple Concerto" and Sergei Prokofiev's Symphony No. 5.

• APRIL 24: "The Rite of Spring," featuring guest cellist Wesley Baldwin performing Dmitri Shostakovich's Cello Concerto No. 1 and Igor Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring."

Contact Casey Phillips at cphillips@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @PhillipsCTFP.