The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and Music Director Jacques Lacombe perform Gustav Holst's most iconic work, The Planets, and Michael Tippett's Symphony No. 4 as part of the 2013 Winter Festival, Air and the Atmosphere. In the third season of a multi-year Winter Festival odyssey spotlighting the symbolic power of natural elements that have inspired composers for centuries, Lacombe and the Orchestra explore air in many contexts; with the Tippett and Holst works, the program moves from the life-giving breath to the outer regions of the atmosphere.
"Tippett's Fourth Symphony is built almost like a journey through life, with the sound of the human breath as a unifying element," Lacombe says. "At the end of the piece you have the impression of having seen an entire life passing in front of you and through your ears-it is extremely moving and powerful. It's the idea of what an element could become when it is treated as a musical instrument."
For Holst's celestial work, Lacombe has invited the American Boychoir to return to the NJSO stage. "It will be the first time I perform The Planets with a boychoir," the Music Director says. "The piece was written for female voices, but the work calls for such a mystical sound, coming from the sky, and I thought children's voices could work very well-they have less vibrato, and I think it will create an even stronger sense that you are hearing something from another world."
Of collaborating with the renowned Princeton-based ensemble, Lacombe says: "It is a top choir in this country, and an extremely professional one. It's inspiring to see young kids so good at what they do."
Performances take place on Friday, January 4, (8 p.m.) and Sunday, January 6, (3 p.m.) at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) in Newark and Saturday, January 5, (8 p.m.) at the State Theatre in New Brunswick. Classical Conversations begin one hour before the January 4 and January 6 performances in Newark. The two Newark performances will also feature an Information Fair & Artisan Marketplace; artisans and environmental organizations will host displays in the Prudential Hall lobby before the concert and during intermission.