The tumblr of Jason Weinberger

wcfsymphony → The Planets, Reimagined

April 27, 2013 7:30 pm → Great Hall, GBPAC

Holst – The Planets, with new artwork by Gary Kelley

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The Planets becomes brilliant, powerful journey of music and imagery with Gary Kelley’s artwork
by George F. Day
Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier
May 1, 2013

The 2012-13 season of the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony ended last weekend with an explosion of creativity. The event took place in the Great Hall of the Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center before a nearly full house.

The program put on display the creative talents of a painter, Gary Kelley, a conductor, Jason Weinberger, musicians, singers and the composer, Gustav Holst. The idea of putting these several artistic forces together was brilliant, and it was, I am sure the result of close collaboration between Kelley and Weinberger. The complicated uniting of the several art forms worked beautifully. We are fortunate indeed to have two such talented artists who work together so easily.

The program consisted of a single work. With no intermission Gustav Holst’s The Planets is about 50 minutes in length – but what a 50 minutes! The piece for large orchestra is a suite that devotes each of its movements to the character or personality of each of seven planets [Mars, Venus, Mercury, Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune]. A stunning addition to the mix came with the appearance of Kelley paintings on a large screen behind the orchestra.

The personalities of each planet are, of course, imagined ones, loosely related to the astrological significance of the planet. Mars, the Bringer of War, for example, is frightening with its strident militarism. Jupiter, on the other hand, conveys a lighter mood with its wonderful French horn, woodwind and violin passages.

Musical imagery was enhanced by Kelley’s superb paintings. For example, the lovely, pastoral scene at the beginning of Mars, which quickly changed to harsh images of dead bodies tangled in barbed wire in trenches. From such a grim beginning to Neptune, the Mystic, with its hypnotic passages [including the mysterious and lovely wordless chorus of the offstage women’s choir], the total experience was a kind of powerful philosophical journey of music and metaphysics.

The orchestra has never sounded better, and the program inspired surely one of the grandest ovations ever. The audience was simply frenzied.

Note: All reviews are edited for spelling and length