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The Planets

Darwin Symphony Orchestra (DSO) sees the year out with a bang this month. You could even go as far to say a big bang.

The finale concert of 2022 presents three exciting works, including Gustav Holst’s magnificent seven-movement masterpiece The Planets, undoubtedly an epic way to end what has been an epic year for the DSO.

By Tierney Seccull

Kicking off the evening is John Rutter’s seven-minute 1974 work Gloria, followed by Serenade to Music penned by English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams. Presented under the direction of Michael Loughlin, both pieces feature the vocal talents of Darwin-based choir Vocalective. DSO Artistic Director and Chief Conductor Jon Tooby says they’re thrilled to have them involved.

“Musically, there is so much extraordinary music with choir … For DSO, which is very much a community organisation, it just brings the community together, we just have more love in the room. We’ve never actually collaborated with Vocalective before, so this is a first for us,” he says.

“We love collaborating with choirs and bringing singing to our audience, so it made sense. Particularly with the Vaughan Williams piece, it’s just a vocal piece, if you like. Gloria is an adaptation from the Anglican mass ... It’s a really triumphant piece, pretty big and quite festive, so it’s perfect for the season.”

Gloria features brass and percussion instruments, whereas Serenade to Music includes a full orchestra. Albeit a slightly smaller one than we’ll see in The Planets.

Presented in the second half of the performance, under the baton of Tooby, The Planets are unique pieces that capture the characteristics of planets Mars, Venus, Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

“It is huge. It’s what I’d call a potboiler – it’s one of the absolute classics, and loved all over the world. It’s unique in that it is astrological, so each of the movements have different themes for each of the planets, such as Bringer of War, Bringer of Peace, and so on,” he says.

“It starts with Mars, The Bringer of War, which sounds like Star Wars, truthfully. What Holst has done is so magical, how he can create a soundscape like The Bringer of War.

"Jupiter, which is the Bringer of Jollity, is probably the most famous, and it is just so festive and also has a wonderful anthem in it. The Magician is Uranus, and it could be off Harry Potter.”

Rounding out the epic evening of music is Neptune, the Mystic, because when Holst composed the work back in 1914 to 1917, Pluto hadn’t yet been discovered.

“The Mystic finishes with women singing, also from Vocalective, and will be a beautiful, beautiful end to the whole piece.”

Space, the universe, our galaxy and the planets have bewildered us for millennia. There’s something about the planets that sparks our curiosity, and brings into question our existence. Embark on a magical, astrological journey with the DSO to The Planets.

The Planets
COST $20-$130

Photos: Tim Nicol Photography

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