Earlier this year, the Mars Opportunity Rover mission ended. It’s final words came to Earth as “my battery is low, it’s getting dark.” This came about as the planet was covered in a dust storm, blocking out the sun from reaching the solar-powered Mars rover.
Mars is a planet full of unknown, even after missions to photograph its surface. These planet-wide storms project an image of chaos and anger, fitting, then, that the planet gains its name from Mars, the Roman god of war.
In our upcoming concert (May 5th, 3pm), we play two pieces from Gustav Holst’s Planets suite, one of which will be, as you may have guessed, “Mars.” Though Holst writes from an astrological perspective and not an astronomical, thus “Mars” is more about the effect of the planet on the psyche, rather than the Roman god, there are similarities between the two. (And if you want to dig more into the astronomy of it, Mars the planet is generally thought to be ruled by the sign of Aries, which stems from Ares – the Greek counterpart to Mars. There are connections everywhere.)
In astrology, Mars is the planet of activity and energy, a feeling created by Holst’s composition. The piece is meant to unsettle, to make things seem slightly off, keep the listener, and perhaps also the instrumentalists, on their toes. The time signature plays with the idea of the expected, not quite allowing things to become balanced. There’s a military feel to the piece, one that can be seen as a forerunner to many other famous compositions, such as Williams’ “Imperial March” from Star Wars, or Zimmer’s score for Gladiator.
Why did I begin this post with the Mars rover Opportunity? Because this concert, as all of our concerts are, is focused around a theme that is meant to transport the listener, to take you away for however long we have your attention. This spring’s concert is entitled “Worlds Away,” and that’s precisely where we hope to bring you. Just as Opportunity gave us images of this other planet, unknowable, wild and scary, visiting us at the Lexington Opera House on May 5th will give you a chance to be transported to other worlds, other times, other places. We hope to see you there.