Friday, May 3rd at 7pm

Saturday, May 4th at 7pm

Thomas Auditorium at Blue Ridge Community College

Tickets are now on sale!

Tickets range in price from $10 - $20 depending on seating choice.

Pictures courtesy of Joy Shanahan.  Hendersonville Ballet Dancers performed Neptune (first two photos) and Jupiter (third photo) during the Spring performance of 2023.  

The Planets, Op. 32, is an orchestral suite composed by English composer

Gustav Holst. The full suite contains seven movements, each named after

a planet in our solar system. In original order, they are Mars, the

Bringer of War; Venus, the Bringer of Peace; Mercury, the Winged

Messenger; Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity; Saturn, the Bringer of Old

Age; Uranus, the Magician; and Neptune, the Mystic. An amateur

astrologist, Holst used the astrological qualities of each planet to

create musical impressions. The suite, composed between 1914 and 1917,

debuted in 1918 at the Queen's Hall in London to mixed reviews. Some

called it "noisy." Others called it "Holst's greatest work."

Since its debut, The Planets has been recorded at least 80 times. It has

influenced film scores, jazz and rock and roll. It has been adapted for

marching bands and used in figure skating. The first ballet set to it

premiered in 1934.

Betsy Dixon explains her journey with this music and choreography:

"Our performance today (Spring 2023) includes three selections: Mercury, Neptune and

Jupiter. I have loved this music since childhood, and dreamed of

choreographing it for many years. Hendersonville Ballet first gave me

the opportunity before the Covid-19 shutdown--we had a dress rehearsal

that included Mercury and Jupiter on March 15, 2020 for a show that

never made it to stage. I am so thankful to have a second chance. I am

blessed to work with Sage Walker as co-choreographer, as well as Floria

Apostolova, Halie Parris and Sierrah Haskins as original cast members. I 

hope to work with all the powerful new dancers (and some returning ones)

to perform the remaining four movements in the future. "

Hendersonville Ballet will be performing all 7 pieces in May of 2024!

The Planets - Wikipedia 

1. Mars, the Bringer of War

Duration: 8 minutes and 19 seconds.

Mars is marked allegro and is in a relentless ostinato for most of its duration. It opens quietly, the first two bars played by percussion, harp and col legno strings. The music builds to a quadruple-forte, dissonant climax. Although Mars is often thought to portray the horrors of mechanized warfare, it was completed before the First World War started. The composer Colin Matthews writes that for Holst, Mars would have been "an experiment in rhythm and clashing keys", and its violence in performance "may have surprised him as much as it galvanized its first audiences".  Short comments, "harmonic dissonances abound, often resulting from clashes between moving chords and static pedal-points", which he compares to a similar effect at the end of Stravinsky’s The Firebird, and adds that although battle music had been written before, notably by Richard Strauss in Ein Heldenleben, "it had never expressed such violence and sheer terror".

2. Venus, the Bringer of Peace

Duration: 8 minutes and 21 seconds.

The second movement begins adagio.
According to Imogen Holst, Venus "has to try and bring the right answer to Mars". The movement opens with a solo horn theme answered quietly by the flutes and oboes. A second theme is given to solo violin. The music proceeds tranquilly with oscillating chords from flutes and harps, with decoration from the celesta.  Between the opening adagio and the central largo there is a flowing andante section in with a violin melody (solo then tutti) accompanied by gentle syncopation in the woodwind. The oboe solo in the central largo is one of the last romantic melodies Holst allowed himself before turning to a more austere manner in later works.  Leo called the planet "the most fortunate star under which to be born"; Short calls Holst's Venus "one of the most sublime evocations of peace in music".

3. Mercury, the Winged Messenger

Duration: 4 minutes and 24 seconds.

Mercury is in 6/8  and is marked vivace throughout.  The composer R. O. Morris thought it the nearest of the movements to "the domain of programmed music pure and simple ... it is essentially pictorial in idea. Mercury is a mere activity whose character is not defined". This movement, the last of the seven to be written, contains Holst's first experiments with bitonality. He juxtaposes melodic fragments in B♭ major and E major, in a fast-moving scherzo. Solo violin, high-pitched harp, flute and glockenspiel are prominently featured. It is the shortest of the seven movements, typically taking between 3 12 and 4 minutes in performance.

4. Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity

Duration: 8 minutes and 29 seconds.

In this movement Holst portrays Jupiter's supposedly characteristic "abundance of life and vitality" with music that is buoyant and exuberant. Nobility and generosity are allegedly characteristics of those born under Jupiter, and in the slower middle section Holst provides a broad tune embodying those traits. In the view of Imogen Holst, it has been compromised by its later use as the melody for a solemn patriotic hymn, "I Vow to Thee, My Country"; the music writer Lewis Foreman comments that the composer did not think of it in those terms, as shown by his own recordings of the movement. The opening section of the movement is marked allegro giocoso, in time. The second theme, at the same tempo, is in time, as is the broad melody of the middle section, marked andante maestoso, which Holst marks to be taken at half the speed of the opening section. The opening section returns and after a reappearance of the maestoso tune – its expected final cadence unresolved, as in its first appearance – the movement ends with a triple forte quaver chord for the full orchestra.

5. Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age

Duration: 8 minutes and 58 seconds.

Saturn was Holst's favorite movement of the suite.  Matthews describes it as "a slow processional which rises to a frightening climax before fading away as if into the outer reaches of space". The movement opens as a quiet adagio in, and the basic pace remains slow throughout, with short bursts of animato in the first part and a switch to andante in the later section. Apart from the timpani no percussion is used in this movement except for tubular bells at climactic points.  At the beginning, flutes, bassoons and harps play a theme suggesting a ticking clock. A solemn melody is introduced by the trombones (Holst's own main instrument) and taken up by the full orchestra.  A development of the ticking theme leads to a clangorous triple forte climax, after which the music dies away and ends quietly.

6. Uranus, the Magician

Duration: 5 minutes and 20 seconds.

Matthews describes the character of the movement as that of "a clumsy dance, which gradually gets more and more out of hand (not unlike Dukas's Sorcerer's Apprentice) until, with what seems like a magic wand, all is abruptly swept away into the far distance". The movement, which begins with a what Short calls "a tremendous four-note brass motif", is marked allegro in. The music proceeds in "a series of merry pranks" with occasional interjections in building to a quadruple forte climax with a prominent organ glissando, after which the music suddenly drops to a pianissimo lento before alternating quick and slow sections bring the movement to its pianissimo conclusion.

7. Neptune, the Mystic

Duration: 7 minutes and 24 seconds.

The music of the last movement is quiet throughout, in a swaying, irregular meter, opening with flutes joined by piccolo and oboes, with harps and celesta prominent later. Holst makes much use of dissonance in this movement. Before the premiere his colleague Geoffrey Toye said that a bar where the brass play chords of E minor and G♯ minor together was "going to sound frightful". Holst agreed, and said it had made him shudder when he wrote it down but, "What are you to do when they come like that?" As the movement develops, the orchestra is joined by an offstage female chorus singing a soft wordless line: this was unusual in orchestral works at the time, although Debussy had used the same device in his Nocturnes (1900). The orchestra falls silent and the unaccompanied voices bring the work to a pianissimo conclusion in an uncertain tonality, as a door between the singers and the auditorium is gradually closed.