So in my last post, which now feels like ages ago, I mentioned that I was going to be creating a gigantic projection design for Holst’s suite The Planets, to be performed with The Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra.

Poster for The Planets with The Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra

It had been my intention to blog about the creative process as I was creating the piece. As you may have determined by now, that didn’t happen. Instead, I ended up putting virtually every free moment I had into creating the projections. It was worth it.

The performance was really extraordinary, and received an extended standing ovation with the conductor being called back for additional bows three times.

More importantly, the audience was truly engaged by the combination of music and imagery. I was able to talk to a number of members of the audience after the show, and was really blown away by the response.

At some point, I will have some extended excerpts from the piece to share with you, I am dealing with some technical issues about how to convert them into a format that I can upload.

What I do have, that I can share with you now, is the trailer that I created as a preview for the orchestra’s website.

I’d also like to share with you my program notes, which I think will give you some idea of my thought process and creative process.

Creating imagery for “The Planets” is a daunting task for a projection designer. Holst’s amazing music was written about the astrological planets, that is to say, the significance that the planets have in classical astrology. In Holst’s time, the beauty of the astronomical planets
(the actual objects in space) was just beginning to be discovered through powerful telescopes, and was not widely known.

Today, we are fortunate to have an amazing and almost endless catalogue of images of the universe. Images, from ground-based telescopes  and spacecraft such as Hubble and the Mars Rovers provide an incredible wealth of scientific knowledge and also of visual texture and beauty. It is in this second capacity, as artistic images, that I draw on them for this piece. I also draw heavily on the 3-D space visualizations which it is possible to create using modern computers and the amazing DigitalSky 2 software. This software was created here in New Hampshire by Sky-Skan, and is used in
planetariums all over the world.

Each movement begins with imagery of the planet that it is named for, from there we go wherever the music and the visual rhythm of the
imagery lead. In some movements we explore the planet and its moons, in others we fly to the very edge of the visible universe. I’ve made a choice not to be bound by the science of what these objects are, but simply to allow the music to lead my eye wherever in the universe it is drawn. So I invite you to approach experiencing this
piece as I do, as a feast for the ears and the eyes, and let your heart take flight.

I’ll have another post going up on Thursday where I’ll talk about some of the technology behind the show.

And by the way,  I’d love to bring The Planets to a performance hall near you!  If you know of a local performance of The Planets that might be interested in projections, please let me know!

  • One of my favorite pieces. (One of many, of course, but still…) Lovely teaser video. I would have seen the performance!

    Once again, great work, Andy.

  • One of my favorite pieces. (One of many, of course, but still…) Lovely teaser video. I would have seen the performance!

    Once again, great work, Andy.

  • admin

    Thanks Geoff!
    You know it’s interesting, I’ve always enjoyed The Planets, but having spent so much time with it has really changed my view of the piece.
    Every time I listen to it, and particularly when I listen while reading the score, I’d discover something new, something I’ve never heard before.
    I’ve really didn’t have an understanding of just how much a masterwork this piece is.

  • admin

    Thanks Geoff!
    You know it’s interesting, I’ve always enjoyed The Planets, but having spent so much time with it has really changed my view of the piece.
    Every time I listen to it, and particularly when I listen while reading the score, I’d discover something new, something I’ve never heard before.
    I’ve really didn’t have an understanding of just how much a masterwork this piece is.

  • Cool. I love discovering new subtitles and distinctions in familiar work.

  • Cool. I love discovering new subtitles and distinctions in familiar work.

  • Pingback: Projections for The Planets - A look behind the scenes | The Journey of Story()

  • Jon Hooper

    Hi, I am playing out in South Africa and am performing the Planets in June. Is there anyway of getting hold of the projections to take to the management here as a suggestion for the performance. Hope to here from you (jonhooper1980@googlemail.com) Jon