The Planets receives a rapturous reception

Tonbridge School’s Chapel of St Augustine was filled with the sounds of Gustav Holst’s The Planets on Friday (15 March).

The school’s Symphony Orchestra performed all seven separate movements of the suite to a full house, which rose in standing ovation after the hour-long concert.  

Beginning with the great drama of Mars, the Bringer of War, the suite proceeded through Venus, Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus. The evening concluded with the haunting sounds of Neptune, the Mystic, which included performances from members of the Ladies’ Chorus of Canticum, the leading London chamber choir.

Seventy boys from the school performed as part of the Symphony Orchestra, which was led by Mark Forkgen, Tonbridge’s Director of Music.

The concert is part of the celebrations to mark the official opening of the school’s Barton Science Centre and the launch of Mission Discovery Week, which will see two renowned NASA astronauts arriving at Tonbridge for a week of space-themed activities and talks.

This programme of events at the school also marks both the 50th anniversary of the first Moon Landings, and the 50th year since Sir Derek Barton, an Old Tonbridgian, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Mr Forkgen said: “Playing The Planets is difficult for any orchestra. For a school orchestra to play it with such musicianship and maturity is a tremendous achievement. The electricity on stage was something that will live with us all for some time to come.”

Above right and first picture below: Mark Forkgen conducts the Symphony Orchestra during The Planets.

Other pictures show rehearsals for the concert.

  • Barton Science Centre