‘Planets, Pianos and Projections’ // Anywhere Festival

‘Planets, Pianos and Projections’ was intergalactic.

What better way to spend a rainy Saturday afternoon than tucked away in the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium witnessing a truly unique show. Devised by Betty Nicholson and Lyn Panetta, Gustav Holst’s ‘The Planets’ under the planets in the Skydome was an inspired idea and exactly the sort of experimental theatre Anywhere Festival is known for.

Gustav Holst’s ‘The Planets’ is a series of compositions about each planet in our solar system, with each piece embodying the personality of the planet it represents. The ability to view the planet up close while the pianists performed gave a deeper meaning to each piece.

‘Mars – The Bringer of War’ with its forceful, staccato rhythm embodied the oppressive large red planet looming just above the audience’s heads. ‘Venus – The Bringer of Peace’ brought a sense of tranquility to the Skydome, with a soft, mesmerising melody mimicking the gentleness of the calm, etherial planet. ‘Neptune – The Mystic’ was as jovial and playful as the captivating azure blue planet that illuminated the planetarium in an intriguing and colourful glow.

Two digital pianos were set up in the middle of the intimate Skydome. They were unobtrusive and did not draw any attention away from the projections, which were the main focus of the performance. The planetarium staff operated the projections, timed to complement each piece of movement. As each planet orbited the sun, the musical piece would begin – as if the music drew the planets from the solar system and into the Skydome where they could be studied up close. As the piece came to an end, the planet would retract back into the solar system as the next one appeared.

Pianists Betty Nicholson and Lyn Panetta excelled in their performances, which were made all the more difficult with limited light. Their proficient fingers danced over the keys and their ability to embody the style of each piece was flawless. The brief introduction they gave for each piece explained the astrological meaning of each planet and how Holst interpreted this in music.

The fifty-minute performance was both fascinating and relaxing, creating a unique experience from a clever idea. Combining live music and planetary projections was a perfect performance for the Anywhere Festival and certainly made for an enjoyable afternoon.

‘Little Shop of Horrors’ performed on May 22, 2022 at Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium. For more information visit the Anywhere Festival website.

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