The Conway Symphony Orchestra created a new song for the end of the lineup in Gustav Holst’s “The Planets” Saturday, March 11 at the Reynolds Performance Hall.
The band set the evening with “Also Sprach Zarathustra,” the well-known instrumental used in “2001, A Space Odyssey.”
Associate Professor Israel Getzov, who directed the orchestra, said that while the song was not originally about space, it has become that way for many people.
“And now you can’t hear that song without thinking about the solar system,” Getzov said.
Getzov then introduced Vivan Chang to play French horn for the piece “Concerto No. 1 for Horn in E-flat Major, Op. 11,” which was written by the same composer as the previous piece, Richard Strauss.
Holst wrote the pieces in the evening’s main section, which were named for the Roman and Greek gods the planets were named for.
“He wasn’t really an astronomy nut; he was an astrology nut,” Getzov said. “It’s interesting to think that for much of human history, astrology was just as important as astronomy.”
The songs follow Holst’s interpretations of the gods, with the two most famous pieces being “Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity” and “Mars, the Bringer of War.”
“You get to imagine about the planets as the gods and what they represent,” Getzov said.
The remaining pieces played from Holst’s group were “Venus, the Bringer of peace,” “Mercury, the Winged Messenger,” “Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age” and “Uranus, the Magician.”
For each planet, associate professor Scott Austin came onstage to give facts such as the weight, atmosphere and distance from Earth of each.
Two such were the atmospheres of Jupiter, which Austin said had storms and winds at about 300 mph, and Saturn, which was similar.
“Saturn’s atmosphere also swirls with winds and storms at about 500 mph,” Austin said.
Holst’s last song was about Neptune, but the final performance for the night was about a possible new planet orbiting Neptune that has yet to be officially named.
Getzov said a contest had been implemented, challenging people to name and draw the planet.
The winner was Charlotte Miller, who is a sixth-grader according to the event’s playbill.
Miller named the planet “Apollo’s Terra” for the god of music and the Latin word for Earth.
Getzov said the final song was a tribute to the unknown, and was thus improvised that night.
Photo by Lauren Swaim