Robert Ziegler conducts the RPO in music inspired by space footage from NASA

Conductor Robert Ziegler and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) venture into space in a tour featuring music associated with outer space, including Gustav Holst’s The Planets accompanied by awe-inspiring NASA imagery projected high above the Orchestra.

Holst’s seven-movement orchestral suite The Planets, completed exactly a century ago, has become one of the best-loved and most evocative works in all of classical music. Now it is vividly brought to life through the accompaniment of Duncan Copp’s extraordinary film. Featuring spectacular photography and moving images from NASA, the film uses material sent back by the Voyager, Mars Rover and other space missions, as well as interviews with members of the space mission before the music begins.

Robert Ziegler says,

“I’m absolutely thrilled to have been asked to conduct these wonderful concerts in a remarkable meeting of timeless music and breathtaking imagery. Who would have known that film brought back from the exploration of deep space would make such a stupendous marriage with some of the greatest orchestral works on Earth?”

The RPO, this year celebrating its 70th Anniversary, will visit concert halls around the country. The tour begins at Bristol’s Colston Hall (11 June) and the Orchestra also visits the Cliffs Pavilion in Southend (12 June), The Anvil in Basingstoke (17 June), Usher Hall in Edinburgh (19 June) and London’s Royal Albert Hall (24 June), before continuing to Birmingham’s Symphony Hall (25 June) and the Royal & Derngate, Northampton (26 June).

In all venues except the Royal Albert Hall, the first half of the programme will feature music that has become synonymous with outer space, including Richard Strauss’ Also Sprach Zarathustra and Johann Strauss’ Blue Danube Waltz (both used in Stanley Kubrik’s 2001: A Space Odyssey), and John Williams' iconic Star Wars® theme; in London only, the programme will also include John Adams’ Short Ride in a Fast Machine.

Ziegler is that unique thing; a conductor who is equally at home in the classical, film and pop worlds. Often conducting the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as all major UK symphony orchestras, he is known for his inventive programming and innovative collaborations with artists from opera, jazz, theatre and contemporary pop music. His repertoire ranges from core symphonic music to the avant-garde, and his orchestral arrangements have been played around the world.

In 2015, his enduring interest in film music saw him lead the BBC Concert Orchestra in the live accompaniment of Jerry Goldsmith’s Planet of the Apes at the Royal Festival Hall as part David Byrne’s Meltdown festival, and a collaboration with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra for the world premiere of Pete Townshend’s Classic Quadrophenia at the Royal Albert Hall, for Deutsche Grammophon. His international work has included guest-conducting with the Adelaide Symphony, Gulbenkian, Shanghai Symphony and Japan Philharmonic orchestras in the live accompaniment to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, with a score that features music by composers Ligeti, Strauss and Khatchaturian. He returns to China for a concert with the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra in May 2016.

In July, Robert Ziegler will make his debut at the Philharmonie de Paris with the Orchestre National d’île de France in Max Richter’s landmark piece Memoryhouse, described by BBC Music Magazine as ‘a masterpiece in neoclassical composition’.

Robert Ziegler talks more about the project in A Conversation with Robert Ziegler.



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