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Home / Cal Phil

Cal Phil Celebrates 50th Anniversary of Man’s First Steps on the Moon

The California Philharmonic will play music inspired by space, accompanied by projected never-seen-before NASA and JPL images. – Courtesy photo / Cal Phil

‘Space: A Giant Leap’ concert, July 28, at Disney Concert Hall

Fifty years ago on July 20, Neil Armstrong became the first man to step onto the Moon.

The California Philharmonic celebrates this landmark anniversary by transporting music lovers to the Moon and beyond on July 28 with “Space: A Giant Leap” at Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Cal Phil Founder and Music Director Dr. Victor Vener conducts this concert for the whole family that includes music from “Apollo 13,” “Star Wars,” “Star Trek,” Holst’s “Mars” and “Jupiter,” Strauss’ “Also Sprach Zarathustra” featured in “2001: A Space Odyssey” and Mahler’s “Symphony No. 1, “Titan,” accompanied by projected never-seen-before NASA and JPL images.

James Horner’s music for “Apollo 13” brought him an Oscar nomination. He said his approach was the opposite of “going big” because “A big score sets the audience up for just another sci-fi movie; this is a documentary – you know where it’s going to end. I was trying to get out of the story everything that was best about NASA … idealism, in a very different way.” Horner died at the age of 61 in 2015, having won two Academy Awards, a Golden Globe and four Grammys.

Everyone knows who composed “Star Wars” – film-music mega-star John Williams. Williams has won five Oscars (nominated 51 times), three Emmys and 20 Grammys, and he’s not done yet. “When we did the initial recording (for “Star Wars”)  in 1977, I thought it would be a wonderful sort of Saturday afternoon show for the family, and then in a few weeks it would be gone,”  he recalled.

To give the Imperial Death March in “Star Wars” some extra punch, Williams drew inspiration from Gustav Holst’s orchestral suite, “The Planets,” specifically, the “Mars” movement, which will be performed along with “Jupiter” on July 28.

It’s interesting to note that Pluto wasn’t included in this suite because it hadn’t been discovered. When it was found in 1930, Holst had no intention of writing a new movement for the new planet. “The Planets,” he felt, had gotten more than enough attention and it really annoyed him that this one, single work overshadowed (maybe we should say “eclipsed?”) everything else he ever wrote.

If any symphony ever had an identity crisis, it would have to be Mahler’s First Symphony (“Titan”). The tumultuous history of this symphony might have had something to do with a tempestuous affair Mahler was having with the wife of Baron Weber while he was writing it. He begged the lady to abandon her family and elope; while she dithered over her decision, he wrote what would become his first symphony (frequently dropping in at her home to play bits and pieces on her family piano). Madame Weber decided to stay put, but it’s possible that without her, there might have been no “Titan” symphony.

The concert begins at 2 p.m., Sunday, July 28, at Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90012. The orchestra’s ever popular “Talks With the Maestro” chats with Dr. Vener take place at 1 p.m. in BP Hall.

Tickets range from $37.50 to $140 with subscriptions ranging from $33 to $122.50, all available at calphil.com and (323) 850-2000. Groups of 10 or more may call (323) 850-2050. Box office hours are Tuesday-Friday, 12 noon to 5 p.m. and 2 hours prior to performance.

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