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Friday, March 22, 2013

In Context: Planetarium

Sufjan Stevens and Bryce Dessner. Photo: Daniel Boud

Planetarium, the love letter to the solar system from Sufjan Stevens, Nico Muhly, and Bryce Dessner, runs at BAM until Sunday, March 24. Context is everything, so get even closer to Mercury, Venus, and the rest with this curated selection of articles, videos, and original blog pieces related to the show. For those who've already seen it, help us keep the conversation going by telling us what you thought below.

On the Blog

"A Planetarium-Inspired Guide to the Galaxy"
Nate Gelgud finds astrological significance in the lyrics of Planetarium. 

"From the Astrology Dept: The Planets and Planetarium"
The BAMystic opines on what the stars have in store for expectant mothers, OkCupid daters, and others throughout the run of Planeterium. 

"When Musical Stars Align"
“The first half is like amplified tambourines and the second half is this big explosion of a thing,” says Sufjan about Planetarium in this brief profile.

Around the Web

"Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner, and Nico Muhly Light Up Their Proggy 'Planetarium' in Brooklyn" (SPIN)
Says Spin: "a nebulous concoction of art-rock and neoclassicism with lyrics about dropping one's knickers at Methodist camp [with] some truly trippy moments."

"Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly & Sufjan Stevens' 'Planetarium' made its debut at BAM" (Brooklyn Vegan)
Browse photos from the production. 

Interview with Nico Muhly (Vimeo)
Muhly talks about musical prodigies, listening to Peter Grimes on his parent’s floor, and being a “mistress” of a score’s contents.

The Age of Adz, Sufjan Stevens (Bandcamp)
Steven’s 2010 release revealed a darker, electronica-infused region of the Sufjan soul.

Brief Interview with Bryce Dessner (Vimeo)
Dessner talks about his father’s record collection and Springsteen’s “Glory Days."

“Jupiter” from Planetarium (YouTube)
The Solar System’s "loneliest planet" gets a lush tribute in this Planetarium preview.

“Lots of Things” by Nico Muhly (
Muhly ruminates on running in the rain, buying produce in bulk, and what it’s like to travel with Bryce Dessner.

Set Designs for Planetarium (
Preview projection artist Deborah Johnson’s imaginative takes on Mercury, Jupiter, and the rest.

"Intergalactic Planetary" (NextMagazine)
Read a preview of Planetarium.

Worthwhile Words

Nico Muhly, blogging about the setup of Planetarium:

"The physical structure of the piece is this. At the front of the stage is Sufjan, center, with two keyboards, a drum machine, four thousand pedals, and some vocal microphones. To his left is Bryce, with some guitars, five thousand pedals. Then I’m on the other side with a piano, a celeste, two keyboards, and no pedals aside from those attached to the instruments. Then, behind Sufjan, a drummer, James (whom everybody told me was raw vegan just to mess with my head) playing a standard kit augmented with MIDI-controlled pads. To his right, a string quartet, and on the other side, seven trombones. Hovering over the drums is a sixteen-foot inflatable orb covered in a sort of skin onto which various images are projected. There are also what look like prison lights surrounding the musicians. If you want to see videos of this, they’re all over YouTube; the ones I’ve seen are, I think, the handiwork of Sufjan Superfjans and therefore tend to be very close-up footage of his eyeball but you can hear relatively well."

Now Your Turn . . .

So what's your verdict? Once you've seen the show, tell us what you thought about the music or anything else that might be on your mind in the comments below.

1 comment:

  1. Saw it tonight. Left during introductions, before Mercury. Would have left sooner if I had been seated closer to the aisle. Pure dreck. Singer was horrible with or without vocoder. Hello, the 70's called. They want their light show back.