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ASU Foundation, Phoenix Symphony undertake joint space mission

December 17, 2012

Multimedia lecture/concert event features ASU’s Kip Hodges and Gustav Holst’s 'The Planets'

One of the most recognizable and enduring musical works of the 20th century, Gustav Holst’s “The Planets,” will be performed with a very 21st-century perspective on Jan. 10. This ASU Foundation Presidential Engagement Programs (PEP) special event, “Explore the Planets with the Phoenix Symphony and ASU’s Kip Hodges,” unites the full forces of music director Michael Christie and the Phoenix Symphony with the resources of ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration for a musical and technological look into the heavens.

The evening begins at 6 p.m. with an exclusive reception/presentation at Symphony Hall. Hodges, director of ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration (SESE), an academic unit of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, will speak to PEP ticket holders about the solar system, and how discoveries since the premiere of Holst’s work in 1919 have radically changed the way we think of the planets around our sun. This is an enviable opportunity for PEP participants to hear from Hodges, who was recently recognized by the American Association for the Advancement of Science with the Science (journal) Prize for Inquiry-based Instruction.

Sharing the lectern at the pre-concert presentation will be Phoenix Symphony Principal Timpanist Bruce Pulk, giving a musician’s perspective of Holst’s astronomical observations. A recognized speaker and presenter himself, Pulk hosts the symphony’s popular pre-concert chat series. When not rehearsing and performing with the symphony, Pulk may be found on the podiums of other local orchestras as a guest conductor or leading his own group, the Grand Salon Orchestra.

Following the reception, guests will make their way to the concert hall where Michael Christie will lead the Phoenix Symphony and the women of the Phoenix Symphony Chorus in a performance of "The Planets" – a performance unlike any other, accompanied by the projection of high-resolution, 3-D images from NASA and the Hubble Space Telescope.

"The Planets" has seven movements, one for each of the planets known at the time Holst composed it, with the exception of Earth. Holst wrote the work from an astrological, not astronomical perspective, inspired by the heavenly bodies traditionally believed to influence human behavior. Thus, Holst’s Mars is “the Bringer of War”; Venus, “the Bringer of Peace”; and Mercury, “the Winged Messenger.” “Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity,” is one of the most familiar movements, because one of its melodies became a British patriotic anthem heard worldwide as part of the ceremonies for the wedding of Charles and Diana, prince and princess of Wales.

“Explore the Planets with the Phoenix Symphony and ASU’s Kip Hodges” is a presentation of Presidential Engagement Programs, a community engagement program of the ASU Foundation for A New American University. Registration is $70 per person, which includes a parking pass, admission to the private reception and lecture, and a ticket to the performance. Information and reservations for this and other PEP events are available at

Erik Ketcherside,
Communications Manager | Editorial Services
ASU Foundation for A New American University