“Some of the greatest music is inspired by the skies,” said Ming Luke, conductor of the Las Cruces Symphony Orchestra. With this region’s long association and history with the aerospace industry, Luke chose music for this weekend’s concerts that evokes the heavens: “The Planets,” by Gustav Holst, a suite of “Star Wars” music by John Williams, and a relatively new work, “Starburst,” by Jessie Montgomery.” “Obviously there is a celestial theme here,” Luke said in this interview with Intemezzo host Leora Zeitlin.
While the concerts will take place, Luke wrote subscribers this week that the stars hadn’t quite aligned for him, as he fell ill last weekend and couldn’t come to conduct. The concerts will be conducted by Christopher James Ray, who also led the orchestra in its December concerts.
In this Zoom interview, which was pre-recorded before the change in conductors, Luke discusses the great variety of music in Holst’s monumental work, from the martial energy of “Mars: the Bringer of War” to the ethereal tones of “Neptune: the Mystic,” as well as the influence the music had on subsequent composers, including John Williams. Indeed, Williams has talked about how he was inspired by, and even pays homage to, “Mars” in the opening section of his first “Star Wars” soundtrack.
Listen for an overview of “The Planets” and the other works, with some musical clips included: excerpts from “Mars,” “Jupiter: Bringer of Jollity,” and “Neptune: The Mystic” are from a recording featuring the National Orchestra of France, conducted by Lorin Maazel (CBS/Sony #44781) and the excerpt from “Star Wars” is from “Great Film Fantasies,” with the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, conducted by Erich Kunzel (Telarc #80664).