Release Date: March 15,2018

The Akron Symphony Orchestra presents Planet Earth on March 23

The evening will feature Mendelssohn’s The Hebrides, Respighi’s The Pines of Rome, Rautavaarah’s Cantus arcticus and Vaughan Williams’ Sinfonia antartica, which were all inspired by the sounds and images of nature.

Italian composer Ottorino Respighi’s works are considered by many to be the most successful contributions to the orchestral repertoire by any Italian in the 20th century. From 1916 to 1928 he composed a trilogy - The Fountains of Rome, The Pines of Rome and Roman Festivals – that depict various aspects of daily life in the eternal city. The Pines of Rome is the first orchestral work to use recorded sound as Respighi incorporates a twittering nightingale into the work.

Einojuhani Rautavaara’s Cantua arcticus, his best-known work and commonly referred to as his Concerto for Birds and Orchestra, has three movements that place the haunting cries of wild birds against a stately and mysterious orchestral backdrop.

Felix Mendelssohn was inspired to compose The Hebrides following a trip to Fingal’s Cave off the coast of Scotland and conceived the opening in a flash of inspiration. According to The NPR Listener’s Guide to Classical Music, The Hebrides is “one of the seminal works in a whole vein of Romantic music, a masterpiece of pictorialism in which texture and sonority are used to remarkably expressive ends.”

The “great, white landscapes” of the Antarctic stuck with Ralph Vaughan Williams after he wrote the film score for Scott of the Antarctic, and in the spring of 1949 he began shaping elements of the film’s music into an independent Sinfonia antartica.

With its evocative, glacial sonorities, its sense of vast spaces, and its episodic construction from monumental blocks of music, the Sinfonia antartica takes the listener to a strange world that only few can ever experience.

The women of the Akron Symphony Chorus, under the direction of Marie Bucoy-Calavan, will join the Orchestra for the piece, as will guest soprano Katherine Swift. The work will also be accompanied by striking images of Antarctica projected on the sides of the stage. The images were created by the award-winning production company Natural History New Zealand.

A Preview from the Podium, featuring Maestro Christopher Wilkins discussing the evening’s program, will begin at 7 p.m.

Prior to the concert, several local groups will have educational presentations in the lobby about the work they are doing regarding environmental issues. Groups scheduled to appear include The Nature Conservancy, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Countryside Conservancy, the Cleveland Clinic’s Office for a Healthy Environment and the Ohio Biological Survey.  

Single tickets for Planet Earth start at just $25. Tickets are available at or by calling the Symphony Box Office at 330.535.8131.

The performance will take place at The University of Akron’s E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall, which is located at 198 Hill St. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.