Classical tribute to the planets
By Michael Cameron
It is a conundrum often faced by passionate music lovers. How does one proselytize on behalf of a noble obsession without dumbing down the subject for the sake of the uninitiated?
Chicago Symphony Orchestra's "Beyond the Score" series has been an exemplar of musical outreach, moving past the eat-your-vegetables lectures that can leave a bitter aftertaste on the palate of would-be enthusiasts.
Sunday the series continued with Gustav Holst's "The Planets," a work of grand cinematic scope and arguably a better channel for aural-to-ocular sensation than the touchstones of French Impressionism.
Led by conductor Charles Dutoit, the multimedia spectacle included images from ancient astrological documents, Holst's handwritten score and photographs from the Hubble space telescope. Series director Gerard McBurney wove elements from a number of disciplines into his captivating narrative, with astronomical, astrological and historical references, served up with expert timing even a theater critic would admire.
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