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<<  -- 4 --  Kelly Ferjutz    MUSIC IN THE SPACING OF THE SPHERES


It's not often that one walks into the concert hall and notices a huge movie screen hanging above the stage. But this was to be a visual as well as an audio trip to outer space. Gustav Holst's impressive view of outer space (minus Earth and the as-yet-undiscovered and now de-classified Pluto) provides a sound exploration of the planets, as he knew them. Holst was a student of astronomy, but used the ancient mythology as the basis for his musical recreations of the solar system. The narration by Dr Krauss (in his Severance Hall début) provided information about each planet that matched the remarkable videos from NASA, as assembled by Hatch Productions. Images supplied by various unmanned spacecraft travelling through space were deftly paired with the musical descriptions so vividly created by Holst. Here is a condensed version of what Clevelanders saw and heard. Photos are from NASA/Caltech, and the words extracted from the much longer narration of Dr Krauss (in italics here).

MARS, with its relentless marching soldiers is all about the chaos of war, which was threatening the world even as he wrote it. Mars is a largely dry, cold world where temperatures plunge to minus 200 degrees at night and average minus 70 degrees during the day... Some photos show one mountain peak that is almost three times higher than mount Everest, and one canyon system that is wider than the entire United States and four times deeper than the grand canyon ...

VENUS is peace (with lovely horn solos by Richard King and the violin of Ellen de Pasquale). Venus is a hellishly hot, dry world whose surface is a scalding inferno with temperatures of almost 900 degrees, hot enough to melt lead, and an atmosphere 100 times denser than that of earth, so that on its surface you would experience a pressure as great as that 3000 feet deep in the earth's oceans. Its atmosphere creates a greenhouse effect, where solar energy is absorbed and converted to heat ... more severe than anything the earth will experience for two billion years, even with our current unprecedented human-induced global warming ...


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Copyright © 17 December 2006 Kelly Ferjutz, Cleveland USA


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Classical Music Programme Notes for concerts and recordings, by Malcolm Miller