Youth Orchestra Shoots For The Stars With 'The Planets'

May 9, 2017

Youth Orchestras of San Antonio is about to tackle a tough assignment.  It's complicated, extreme and takes no small amount of effort.  


"YOSA's going to be performing The Planets, this huge, cinematic masterpiece that takes you on this journey through the solar system," says music director Troy Peters.

If you think of our solar system as having nine planets, Gustav Holst's masterpiece has two fewer movements.

"There are actually only seven movements in Holst's Planets, and the reason for that, if you think about it, makes sense," explains Peters. "First of all he didn't write about Earth. He said all of the other music is about Earth. And at the time, Pluto hadn't been discovered yet."

Now, with Pluto designated as a dwarf planet, there still might be just seven movements if Holst were writing his piece today. Peters thinks The Planets' sound is as vast as the solar system it describes.

"You hear it a lot in film music. You couldn't have the sound track for Star Wars or Lord of the Rings without some of the sounds from The Planets" he says"And of course it was also reinvented by rock musicians, all the way from Emerson, Lake and Palmer to all sorts of people who have been inspired by this. It's visceral, it's exciting. Mars is some of the most driving, powerful music there is. And then there's moments of absolute tranquility."

Next Tuesday's May 16th concert at the Tobin Center will feature something that will add a whole new dimension to the music: visuals.

"We have a Seattle Artist named Adrian Wyard who has created a video presentation using space photography that he then computer animates so you go on this voyage through the solar system that accompanies the music and it's really quite something. He performs live while we play the music," Peters says.

So how big a challenge is playing The Planets?

"This is a hard thing to play. It's a big, loud, powerful piece of music. It also requires a lot of restraint and delicacy. [It's] a great way for us to end the year, at sort of the pinnacle of our journey through this season."

Find more on YOSA's The Planets here.