Cosmic Composers: “The Planets 2018”

“Composers have long been known to travel far and wide for inspiration.

Eight musicians, Ayanna Witter-Johnson, Deborah Pritchard, Laurence Crane, Mira Calix, Richard Bullen, Shiva Feshareki, Samuel Bordoli and Yazz Ahmed, decided to update Holst’s The Planets for the 21st century using the latest scientific knowledge, exploring the modern science of our solar system and taking inspiration from the latest explorations of Mars,  Mercury, Saturn, Venus, Uranus, Jupiter and Neptune.

Holst’s masterpiece may be set in stone as a modern classic, but there is good reason to revisit it today.

Not least because, when Holst began the writing process in 1914, our understanding of the solar system left a little bit to be desired. “Martians build two immense canals in two years!” claimed a New York Times story from the time, citing the observations of the respected astronomer Percival Lowell.

The idea to reimagine The Planets using modern science came from the young British composer Samuel Bordoli who, along with producers Sound UK, paired up each musician with a planet and a mentor and asked them each to write a five-minute piece for string quartet.

Titled The Planets 2018, the results are to be performed by the Ligeti Quartet in planetariums across UK.

The Planets, Op. 32“, is a seven-movement orchestral suite by the English composer Gustav Holst (1874 – 1934), written between 1914 and 1916.

Each movement of the suite is named after a planet of the Solar System and its corresponding astrological character as defined by Holst.

From its premiere to the present day, the suite has been enduringly popular, influential, widely performed and frequently recorded.

The suite has seven movements, each named after a planet and its corresponding astrological character :

Mars, the Bringer of War” (1914)

Venus, the Bringer of Peace” (1914)

Mercury, the Winged Messenger” (1916)

Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity” (1914)

Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age” (1915)

Uranus, the Magician” (1915)

Neptune, the Mystic” (1915)

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