The USC Symphony Orchestra will perform a showpiece inspired by renowned composer Gustav Holst’s “The Planets” in its season-opening event.
The symphony will be conducted by Scott Weiss, who is USC’s director of orchestras, and will honor Holst's composition from the early twentieth century inspired by our solar system and its movements. The first performance will introduce the theme of the symphony's season, “Power and Empower.”
To accommodate the performance concert, the Koger Center and USC will bring in an organ, two harpists, the 90-member orchestra and a 63-person choir for the performance. NASA's James Webb Telescope will accompany the performance to physically visualize the music's theme of planetary motion.
The collaboration between orchestral members, choral members and the university serves as a symbol of the theme of unity beyond the music itself, according to Weiss.
The hope for the performance and the upcoming season is that it brings students together and introduces many to a new genre of music, he said.
“It's this huge thing to put together," Weiss said. "It's unifying, I think in a lot of ways. Number one, it's a big event for our community, and number two, it's a big event for our musicians.”
The performance may serve as a connection between older music and current audiences, according to orchestral cellist Ellis McLarty.
“It's really empowering to play these pieces that are again, living and breathing, while also making sure that we keep alive some classics and expose people to stuff that didn't get a lot of attention when it was written," McLarty, a third-year mathematics and cello performance student, said.
The School of Music's dean, Tayloe Harding, emphasized the importance of music selection in shows and how music can be used as a tool to bring people together.
“We design the programs, the actual music that we're playing, around trying to both provide positive experiences for audience members, which includes both music students and non-music students on the campus,” Harding said.
Some orchestral members said the experience has been largely unifying for the musicians. Viola player Mia Bailey, a third-year instrumental music education student, said it was an impactful experience working with a large orchestral unit to put together a show.
“Everybody serves a role, especially in pieces like this, 'The Planets,'" Bailey said. "We're all working towards the same thing. We're all having to turn our brains on the same frequency and do it together.”
Second-chair violinist Aidan Billings said he feels this performance will resonate strongly with the audience and open the season on a positive note.
“Music is naturally ambiguous. And so, it's all up to the emotions we associate with it. But having a composer associating unity with that piece, already — right at its composition — can give it a really strong pull to that feeling," Billings, a third-year mechanical engineering and music student,said. "('The Planets') gives a really human feel to something that is so lifeless.”
The event will take place at 7:30 p.m. at the Koger Center for the Arts on Sept. 22. Admission is free for students with your CarolinaCard.