Inside the Houston Symphony

Taking you behind the music–one concert at a time!

Houston, we have lift off!

with 2 comments

It’s a very exciting time for everyone here at Houston Symphony. Not only is today the World Premiere of The Planets—An HD Odyssey, but we’ve just announced the 2010-2011 season! In the spirit of sharing, we thought it was time to bring our fans a bit closer and give you an inside look into the day-to-day happenings here at Houston Symphony (for instance: did you know that Hans Graf’s baton has just returned from space in time to conduct The Planets?). In addition to our talented conductors, musicians and chorus, there is a dedicated and hardworking staff behind-the-scenes that make all of your favorite concerts come to life.

I’d like to officially kick off the newest Houston Symphony endeavor—the Inside the Houston Symphony blog—where you’ll be able to read first-hand accounts from all of us here at Jones Hall—musicians and conductors included! From concert fun facts to the stories behind the music, we hope you’ll learn a little something with us, too. As I have a music background and have worked in the Symphony industry for a long while, I am very excited to be a part of this organization at a time when there is so much to look forward to. Please take the time as well to check out our newly launched Web site, and to download the free Houston Symphony iPhone App. Those are two of your best sources for staying up-to-date with your Houston Symphony.

I’d like to end my first blog with a heartfelt thank you for all your support of the Houston Symphony. I hope to see you all at Jones Hall soon!

Best wishes,
Dick Hoffert
Interim Executive Director/CEO


Written by Dick H.

January 21, 2010 at 2:09 pm

2 Responses

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  1. For your interest”

    The Planets – An HD Odyssey
    By Craig Anthony Nicholas

    When I saw a plane fly into the sunset today, I pondered what orchestration of music would suit the scene. My consciousness was with the performance of The Planets — An HD Odyssey last evening at the symphony. As birds came between the fanciful view of it drew remembrance of the wonderful energy during the show last night. The Houston Symphony had it’s world premier performance of Gustav Holst’s orchestral suite in sync with Duncan Copp’s film of NASA satellite footage, and there has not been this much excitement since Yo-Yo Ma.

    The prelude was suspense building; the whole show told quite a story that makes you imagine where the music takes you. You contend with whether you will be a passive observer or allow the music to colonize the thoughts in your mind. I had a lot of anticipation on how the screen views would be synchronized with the music orchestration and how the music selection was made for the corresponding video. (I imagined a multimedia experience of Star Wars with the orchestra playing right in front of me. They did not disappoint.) The narration explained that Holst meant his composition of music to be descriptive not of the planets themselves, but of the mythical figures for whom they were named, and one narrator suggested how the selection could have been different

    To think that music which was composed almost a century ago would be paired with images light years away and be performed for audiences using state-of-the-art technology of today is incredible. So though while the music integration is a good deal more arbitrary on occasion, the mix sound and imagery is mostly like chocolate and peanut butter. Somehow you appreciate your discovery of how different sets of reference points converge to transport you to sonic realms.

    Mars was mostly staccato while Venus was more mezzo piano in musical texture. Venus also seemed to be more popular among the women queried as consistent with the book, “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.” There was as much movement in the images of the video on screen as in the music itself. Sometimes there might be 4 or 5 screen views displaying a mix of morphed color patterns simultaneously. That was at times a trick on the eyes keeping up with the maze of rotations and swirls of video imagery. There was one point I thought surely there must be either a fly or a bird or some craft that was captured going across the screen view. Music lovers would be deft to detect the song recognized as “I vow to thee, my country” by Charlotte Church from the Album Voice Of An Angel. Other recognizable works were also a part of the music selections.

    The musical grammar for Mercury was more of a mix and Jupiter was more majestic and stately. During the more minimalist segment on Saturn we find how we become aware of its rings and what appears to be its moons. Aside from its rings Uranus was more uneventful. Mercury was more ethereal and included the offstage singing chorus. which all made for an interesting personality of selections.

    We have been fascinated for so long by how taking risks can push the boundaries of what we are capable of achieving in our current cultural landscape. Ours is a movement where those same visions are already reaching for the sky and beyond. We can learn from this production that deploying our passions does not mean we have to be uniquely motivated to break from the past, but to connect it to the resounding language of exploration–not just through music, art, and technology, but with every exchange we have.

    I thought of the planets much like the architecture of cells and come away with a greater imagination of the far reaches of the planets and music found in the rhythms of life. This was the culmination of years of dedication and work to create a mult-media version of Solar System Illustrated that will not be seen only inside the cave of Jones Hall… If you miss it at Carnegie Hall in New York or the venues in Florida, the soundtrack is available. I enjoyed the show with great friends and look forward to the return of the upcoming show, Stomp!

    Craig Anthony Nicholas

    January 27, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    • Thank you for this note! We’re very happy you enjoyed The Planets — we hope to hear more from you soon!

      Houston Symphony

      February 11, 2010 at 3:28 pm

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