'The Planets Live' is a newly-developed visual accompaniment to The Planets by Gustav Holst. It features spectacular original animations and NASA media that are cued live to follow the conductor so no click-track is required. The visuals faithfully reflect the spirit of each movement as they evolve bar by bar, making them true accompaniments. This approach allows the imagery to add a new dimension to the experience while Holst’s music retains center stage.
The premiere sold-out performance of The Planets was held on October 25th 2014 with the Northwest Symphony Orchestra. The visuals were subsequently programmed by the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra for their 2015 Young People's Concert that reached more than 5000 school children, and was broadcast on PBS. Subsequent performances were held with The Imperial Symphony Orchestra, Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra, the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, and the Bath Philharmonia in the UK. For 2017, bookings include the Orchestra of Northern New York, the Youth Orchestra of San Antonio, the Colorado Music Festival, the Ann Arbor Symphony, the Lima Symphony, and the Northwest Symphony Orchestra.
Mussorgsky's much loved composition is brought to life with fantastical animations that are suitable for all ages. The visuals debuted with the Bath Philharmonia (UK) in June 2017. Special thanks are due to collaborators Ken Priebe, Anna Czoski, and Bojana Dimitrovski.
Featuring glorious landscape imagery from all across America, these visuals will debut with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra in December 2017.
In a word, musicality. The term accompaniment is helpful because the visuals are performed live and reflect the moods, rhythms, and narratives in the score, beat by beat. The intent is to always enhance the music as written, so in the case of The Planets the visuals reflect Holst’s mythological influences rather than contemporary space exploration.
With no click track to follow, the conductor is freed to focus entirely on the orchestra. State-of-the-art computer software assists an on-site video artist as they follow the conductor's direction much like a percussionist, and assemble hundreds of visual 'phrases' into a seamless, perfectly timed accompaniment to the music.
For The Planets, synchronized lighting effects are available which makes for an even more immersive and engaging audience experience.
Adrian M Wyard is a Seattle-based visual artist, and former designer & program manager at Microsoft. He has over 20 years experience working in digital media, including computer graphics, photography & videography, as well as software design. For larger projects numerous world-class collaborators play key roles, including animators, photographers, and 3D artists.
Adrian also has a Masters degree in the history of science from Oxford University, and has been a longtime appreciator of classical music and an enthusiastic supporter of space exploration.
While many of the visuals are original animations, everything shown has some basis in fact and has as its source data from telescopes, orbiting spacecraft, or rovers on the planets' surfaces. Source images, video, and computer modeling courtesy of NASA, JPL-Caltech, SwRI, DLR, ESA, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Goddard Space Flight Center, The Space Telescope Science Institute, The Advanced Visualization Laboratory at the NCSA (esp. Drs. B. Robertson & L. Hernquist), Carnegie Institution of Washington, USGS, California Institute of Technology, Lunar & Planetary Institute (esp. Dr. P Schenk), Malin Space Science Systems, The Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona (esp. Dr. P Smith) and the Institute of Geological Sciences at The Free University of Berlin. Special thanks to Bard Canning for the enhanced Mars descent, Arthur Lepage for 3D modeling, and Andy Ermolli for deep space astrophotography.
Live, visual accompaniments for Holst's Planets and Mussorgsky's Pictures. Dvorák 9 to premiere in 2017
Next Performance: The Planets with the Lima Symphony Orchestra: October 14