Planets, The

Conductor Notes:

Elektra has done this exhilarating work many times with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and, while it’s the one piece on this website that hasn’t been programmed in one of our own concerts, it seems like a good idea to discuss it here. The women’s choir is offstage and only sings in the final movement “Neptune”. It’s an extremely restrained vocalise for two SSA choirs and, no matter how many times we do it, it’s not something we can take for granted. Every single performance is a challenge. The harmonies, particularly the way they are written with lots of double-sharps, will spook your singers until their ears become accustomed to the landmarks. I place Choir 1 in 2 rows top/middle/bottom from my left to right, and I place Choir 2 directly behind each respective section. This really helps them hear their cues and maintain the pitch. The hardest thing about performing this piece is that, being backstage, once you start singing, you can’t hear the very low and quiet sound of the orchestra, so it’s easy to go flat. I recommend singing it a bit louder and vocally freer in rehearsal than you may end up doing in concert so the chords are solid and the singers are confident. The sopranos need every ounce of vocal technique and breath control they have. You will probably be conducting from a video monitor showing the orchestral conductor. Once I made the mistake of thinking the monitor would be fine for the choir to sing from, but they really needed the encouragement of my 3D conducting in front of them for the entrances, so you watch the screen and the choir will watch you. The last time we did this, we had the luxury of slight amplification of the orchestra through some speakers around us backstage, and that was fabulous!


This lists any discs, concerts or collections where this piece is included.