The Great Exhibition Road Festival 2019

Holst’s Planets: Re-imagined

Gustav Holst’s The Planets rocked the classical world a century ago. Shaped by an astrological understanding of our solar system, the seven-piece composition became a mainstream classic. However, since its first performance in 1918, planetary science has made huge strides, visiting our solar system neighbours through probes, rovers and orbiters, and revealing much about each planet’s true character.

In 2018, to commemorate the work’s centenary, Live Music Sculpture and Sound UK worked with a range of planetary experts and eight UK composers to create new music based on current planetary science. Dr Philippa Mason, who mentored composer Shiva Feshareki in tackling Venus, is a remote sensing geologist who uses satellite imagery to study Earth and other planets. She is currently working on the EnVision mission, a European Space Agency and NASA quest to send an orbiting spacecraft to Venus. 

At the Great Exhibition Road Festival Philippa and Shiva will be joined onstage by the London-based Ligeti Quartet to hear segments of The Planets II. In between performances, they will discuss their unique collaboration that updated the view of Venus from Holst’s era as a serene Bringer of Peace with the latest research revealing a hellish world pelted by acid rain and hot enough to melt lead.

At 2:30pm the Ligeti Quartet will head to the Expression Stage on Exhibition Road to perform more pieces from the The Planets II. Please note the time change, which differs from the Festival's website.