|Artwork via DSO|
The seven-part tribute to the planets of our solar system (it excludes the home planet Earth and the then-undiscovered Pluto, which works out, since it lost its designation as a planet in 2006) has the feel of a modern science fiction movie score -- and it virtually becomes one, minus the “fiction,” as spectacular real and digitally animated footage from nearly 40 years of space exploration is shown on a big screen over the orchestra.
Parallels between Holst’s early 20th Century piece and later sci-fi and fantasy pieces are clearly drawn; before the screen is unveiled, the program features popular pieces such as John Williams’ “Adventures On Earth” from E.T., “Star Wars Suite for Orchestra,” and “Double Trouble” from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban; as wells as the selections “Over the Rainbow” and George Gershwin’s “I’ve Got Rhythm” by the Wilmington Children’s Chorus, directed by Kimberly Doucette. To experience such familiar pieces played by a live symphony orchestra is real treat, both for kids and for the parents who grew up with most of them.
After a brief intermission, the main event begins. Narrated by David Stradley, who sets up each section with an explanation of of the visuals to accompany the music, The Planets is truly otherworldly, even with footage that is clearly scientific. The amazing sounds and sights make you feel small, as the sheer awesomeness of the solar system is explored. I wasn’t bored for a moment (though my mind did wander as I absorbed the suite, in a good way); my son and niece, who also attended, agreed that the upbeat “Jupiter” and “Uranus” were their favorites. At two hours total, one might expect the young audience members to become restless. If any were, they didn’t cause much of a disruption, making it wonderful way to spend an afternoon, with or without kids.