October 5, 2021, 4:55 pm
Gustav Holst’s suite is played like you’ve never heard it before …
Written between 1914 and 1917, The planets is a seven-movement orchestral suite by Gustav Holst.
When Holst wrote the work, it was for a large orchestra with woodwinds, brass, strings, percussion as well as celesta and organ.
What the 18th-century composer probably didn’t expect was that this entire suite (which includes more than 100 orchestral musicians) would be played by just one person.
Introducing: Kevin and the Lo-Fi Orchestras performance by The planets (see below).
Continue reading: Mendelssohn’s wedding march, but it is played on 100% homemade instruments
Kevin runs the DIY Electronic website, which has hosted the Lo-Fi Orchestra project for a year.
The “Orchestra” made up of Arduino synthesizers, launched on the website and social media in September 2020, now offers over 100 projects with pieces ranging from performances of Janáček’s Sinfonietta to the theme of the The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
The Lo-Fi orchestral project began for Kevin as a way to bring his “Simple DIY Electronic Music Projects” together to perform a single piece. “
After the decision to take part in the complete orchestral score by The planets, Kevin began recreating the first movement, ‘Mars’, note for note on his growing Arduino orchestra (see above).
Over the next nine months, Kevin completed all seven movements of the orchestral suite and programmed everything from scratch from the original orchestral score and Holst’s own arrangement for two pianos.
“I could have made ‘better’ versions for the Lo-Fi Orchestra, but one of my design goals was to try to keep the ‘homemade’ possibility for every single component,” says Kevin.
“In many of these performances, you will hear additional clicks and pops from poor grounding, 8-bit clipping, MIDI overload, unshielded mix of digital MIDI signals and audio output, and so on.
“But if you want a hi-fi studio version, you should play a MIDI file on a modern synthesizer or, better yet, hear a real orchestra play,” he adds, “there’s really nothing else like it.”