Dancing with the Stars

Gustav Holst’s seven-movement The Planets has long been one of the most accessible — and fiddled-with — classical-music works, partly because of the bold pictures painted by its themes, each part describing a different planet in the solar system through imaginative orchestration. And though it appeals to the space-engaged child in every listener, Holst didn’t consider it his best piece, by far.

No matter. In the present, it’s only natural that modern productions would amp up the visual aspects of the work using technology Holst could only have dreamed of. Enter tonight’s multimedia performance of The Planets by the CU Symphony in Boulder, beefed up by animation and real imagery from NASA spacecraft such as the Mars Curiosity Rover and the Hubble Space Telescope. Throw in narration by four-time space-shuttle veteran Joseph Tanner, who happens to teach in the University of Colorado’s aerospace program, and you’ll experience Holst in a completely new and different way.

Mark Hatch, who first created the multimedia film in the 1990s for the Buffalo Philharmonic, says he’s been updating it with new and sharper images for nearly 200 performances across the nation ever since. Nodding to musicologist Richard Greene’s theories, he says The Planets follows a “philosophical and psychological journey of the self from the physical to the metaphysical world,” adding, “That’s what this is all about: a musical and visual journey that travels across planetary terrains and major moons.”

The Planets blasts off at 7:30 p.m. in Macky Auditorium, on the CU-Boulder campus; for tickets, starting at $10, go to cupresents.org or call 303-492-8008.
Tue., April 29, 7:30 p.m., 2014

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Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd