Planetary Plethora


Science meets art %26#8212; astronomy collides with symphonic sound, to be precise %26#8212; when the world premiere of The Planets %26#8211; An HD Odyssey is performed at Jones Hall later this month. The Houston Symphony does the honors while maestro Hans Graf conducts, reviving the orchestral classic composed by Gustav Holst and first performed in 1918. And after its Houston debut, The Planets orbits around New York's cultural galaxy, when our Houston Symphony takes this piece to the venerable stage of Carnegie Hall (January 28), then on to %26#8212; where else? %26#8212;%26nbsp;Florida where it will be performed at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach (January 30), concluding at Fort Lauderdale's Broward Center (January 31). The timing, mere months after the 40th anniversary of the moon landing, couldn't be more favorable as interest in extraterrestrial exploration is sky-high. To add to the excitement, the visual effects may outdo even a George Lucas production. A mammoth, 24-foot screen will beam an immersive multimedia projection starring actual NASA footage from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, garnered on deep-space missions by the Cassini-Huygens, Galileo, Magellan, Mariner, Messenger and Voyager spacecraft, the Mars rovers and the Hubble Space Telescope. The symphony taps British filmmaker Duncan Copp to direct and produce this accompanying high-definition experience; Graf first had the idea to add NASA footage in 2003, then the concept expanded exponentially after commissioning Copp, who clearly is the idea candidate for this endeavor. He captured the Sundance Film Festival's Best International Film award for In the Shadow of the Moon and also happens to hold a doctorate in astronomy. (His PhD topic researched volcanic activity on Venus.) Audiences had a chance to preview Jupiter, Bringer of Jollity at the symphony's opening night this September; the performance was literally out of this world. Now see the solar system's seven planets via seven movements (sans Earth) plus illuminating commentary by top planetary scientists. The reviews are expected to be galactic. The Planets %26#8211; An HD Odyssey performed by the Houston Symphony, January 21, 23, and 24 at Jones Hall, tickets 713.224.7575; houstonsymphony.org.
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Image:%26nbsp; Neptune will be one of the latest exploration images to be unveiled when the Houston Symphony performs Gustav Holst%26#8217;s The Planets %26#8211; An HD Odyssey. Credit: %26#169; JPL and NASA

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