Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra 3 _ Photo Credit Daniel Aulsebrook
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Can it really be 50 years since that incredible moment when man stepped onto the moon? It was a moment so emblazoned in the memory of those who witnessed it, it seems always present. Honoring this moment, “The Galaxy’s Greatest Hits” will be performed by the world-renowned Melbourne Symphony Orchestra takes place on October 14, 2019 at Symphony Center, which will be its Chicago debut as it celebrates the 50thanniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. 

Charlie Duke

The concert features appearances/performances by guest stars Charlie Duke (tenth and youngest astronaut to walk on the moon), Kurt Elling (Grammy winning jazz star from Chicago), George Takei (Star Trek cast member), and James Morrison (renowned Australian jazz musician). The program includes classics from Star Wars, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Gustav Holst’s The Planets, Star Trek, Apollo 13 and 2001: A Space Odyssey.As Symphony Center is transformed into a galaxy theme with atmospheric lighting and HD images of space, audience members will have a sense of being in space.

George Takei as Captain Sulu 1 – Courtesy of Melbourne Symphony Orchestra

Extending the reach of this one night only event, the MSO announced a pop-up performances at the Chicago Marathon and at the Field Museum, along with a workshop and masterclass with the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra leading up to the event!

Splash Magazines Worldwide had the opportunity of interviewing MSO Managing Director Sophie Galaise and you will be inspired to attend this special event.

The celebration of 50 years since the landing on the moon is certainly a reason to celebrate and reflect.  When did the planning begin for this performance?

The start of this musical adventure between the MSO and Chicago was the 50th anniversary of the moon landing itself. Many people do not know the very significant role Australia played in bringing this momentous moment in history to the world. The NASA tracking stations near Canberra, Australia’s capital city were the only ones to receive the “live” images of the moon landing. The now iconic black and white footage of Neil Armstrong taking the first steps on the moon’s surface was only beamed to the world because of the work of Australians. For this one moment we were united, across the globe. At the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, the way we reflect and celebrate is through the power of extraordinary music, performed by our consummate musicians. 

Both the performers and the musical works promise to be “out of this world”.  Would you like to share a few of the special situations involved in making these choices?

We’ve planned a thrilling program of favorites from space-themed film and television, for example, selections from John Williams’ score to Star WarsET and Richard Stauss’ Also Sprach Zarathustra, the main theme to Stanley Kubrik’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Then we have other classics inspired by the moon or outer space, like Debussy’s Clair de Lune and the Mars movement Gustav Holst’s The Planets.

Our guests certainly are “out of this world” with host George Takei, Star Trek’s Mr. Sulu and special guest Charlie Duke. Charlie had an incredible career with NASA, he is still the youngest man ever to walk on the moon. He was 36 when the Apollo 16 mission landed on April 16, 1972 and Charlie spent 71 hours on the lunar surface. It’s also Charlie’s voice you heard speak back to Neil Armstrong when he radioed to earth on that momentous day in 1969. Hearing him talk about his life will truly be something our audience will never forget.

James Morrison at sunset

We also have two of the greatest stars of the world of jazz performing, Chicago’s own Kurt Elling and his good friend, Australian trumpeter James Morrison. One of the other things we’re celebrating in this concert is the ongoing story of Australian-American friendship, of which these two musicians personify perfectly. The relationship between our two countries is one of collaboration, understanding and mutual admiration.

The choices we’ve made in regards to repertoire and casting are reflective of the MSO’s broader objectives and personality. It’s in our DNA to be innovative and we’re proud of doing things differently, and in turn we reach a hugely diverse audience because of the variety we offer. The MSO has performed with artists from Elton John, KISS, Professor Brian Cox and Nick Cave to classical icons like the late, great Jessye Norman, Renee Fleming, Anne Sofie-Mutter and Lang Lang. The MSO is always evolving, and I’m hugely proud of that. 

We are a leading figure in Australia’s cultural landscape and we’re always striving to achieve greater outcomes. Performing at one of the greatest concert halls in the US, Chicago’s Symphony Center, sees us achieve one of those goals.

Ben Northey – image credit, Dan Aulsebrook

One of the activities associated with this performance is a workshop and masterclass with the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra. What is the take away that you wish for these young people?

At the MSO, we believe in the rights of all people to access and learn music. We have carefully curated learning programs, a regional touring schedule and free community events, providing opportunities for music lovers to be involved with the orchestra no matter their age or location. And that attitude travels with us when we tour internationally. In a very generous gesture, philanthropist and businessman Anthony Pratt is donating 200 tickets to the CYSO, so Chicago’s best and brightest young musicians won’t miss out on experiencing the MSO in action. I hope these young musicians will be inspired by our orchestra, maybe some of their alumni will go on to play with MSO one day, who knows!

Aside from the entertainment and fantastic music, is there an additional take away that you might hope the audience takes away from the evening?

We truthfully have created a multi-dimensional musical experience. It’s by no means, a traditional symphony concert and will be a night to remember in so many ways. We’re celebrating one of mankind’s greatest achievements and the wonder of the universe, through music. I hope that when our audience leaves the concert hall, they’ll reflect on the MSO and feel a little more uplifted and inspired about our place in the world.

Ben Northey – Image credit, Wayne Taylor

Photos are courtesy of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra

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