Almost 100 years ago, Gustav Holst composed "The Planets," a seven-piece suite with a movement devoted to each of the pieces of the known solar system.

Some facts since then - Pluto wasn't a planet, became a planet and is no longer a planet - are similar, but others have changed, including how the work is presented.

"The Planets" will be performed next weekend by the Quad-City Symphony Orchestra, accompanied by a visual presentation syncing with each of the pieces.

"When Holst wrote the piece in 1915 or so, this wasn't a possibility," guest conductor Carl Topilow said in a telephone interview.

Topilow said he's conducted "Planets" several times, but this will be the first time with a video component.

"It's quite effective," he said while walking on a treadmill at his home in suburban Cleveland. "I've seen a performance with it and it's quite nice."

"Planets," he added, is a moving and varied composition.

"It's a tremendous piece of music," he said. "The orchestration is huge ... colorful, very creative. Holst is able to take each movement ... and is able to establish each mood. He's able to establish these moods quite incredibly."

The seven movements, sans Earth, represent Mars ("bringer of war," with a theme that influenced "Star Wars," Topilow said), Venus ("calm and lovely"), Mercury (" ‘winged messenger,' fast and fleeting"), Jupiter (a "jolly theme," used as an anthem in Great Britain), Saturn ("bringer of old age"), Uranus ("the magician") and Neptune ("the mystic").

"It's really based more on astrology than any other meaning," Topilow said.

The video is the creation of José Francisco Salgado, an astronomer and science visualizer at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago as well as the founder and executive director of KV 265, which creates "science through art" by educating people in nontraditional settings.

"You expect to learn about science in a museum, a school, a lecture hall," Salgado said, "but not right at a concert hall."

The movements are accompanied by seven separate short films. They will be projected at the QCSO concerts on a screen 27 feet wide and 15 feet tall.

"The film follows very closely the tone and tempo of the music," Salgado said. "That means the conductor has to take that into consideration and conduct in such a way that he follows the film, so everything is synchronized."

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The two are designed to complement each other.

"More than competing with the music for people's attention, it's actually reinforcing the music," he said.

The visuals come from photos and video taken by satellites from NASA and ESA, the European Space Agency.

It has been presented more than 50 times, "from Taipei to Prague, Canada to Chile," Salgado said.

"I wanted to do something that wasn't a mere slideshow," he said. "For the audience, it's a way to enhance the experience."

 

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