Live visual accompaniments for Holst's Planets, Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition and Dvorák's 9th Symphony
What makes 'visual accompaniments' different from video or slide shows? 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 choreographer 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.
'The Planets Live' is a 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 Lima Symphony Orchestra, and the Auburn 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.
Bookings include The Bath Philharmonia, The Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra, and the Northwest Symphony Orchestra.
Featuring glorious landscape imagery from all across America, these visuals premiered with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra in December 2017. Each visual accompaniment is unique and for this piece a light touch was needed so that the musical performance remains the focal point. As such, the visuals are deliberately abstract and simply emphasize the moods found in the music; no narrative is added on-screen. The audience is invited to allow the music and visuals to transport them on their own personal journey across the expansive prairies, majestic mountains, and glorious vistas in The New World.
This accompaniment features the work of remarkable landscape photographer, Tom Oord.
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. Adrian also has a Masters degree in the history of science from Oxford University, and has been a longtime appreciator of classical music.
For larger projects numerous world-class collaborators play key roles, including animators, illustrators, photographers, and 3D artists.
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.