Interlochen composition faculty members contribute to orchestral work celebrating the solar system

The composition features nine planet-inspired movements—including compositions by Cynthia van Maanen, Andrew Martin Smith, and Jamie Leigh Sampson.

Andrew Martin Smith, Cynthia Van Maanen, and Jamie Leigh Sampson

L-R: Andrew Martin Smith, Cynthia Van Maanen, and Jamie Leigh Sampson.

Three Interlochen music theory and composition instructors contributed to a new orchestral work recently premiered by the Toledo Symphony Orchestra.

Cynthia Van Maanen, an Instructor of Music Theory and Composition at Interlochen Arts Academy; Andrew Martin Smith, an Instructor of Music Theory and Composition at both Interlochen Arts Camp and Interlochen Online; and Arts Camp instructor Jamie Leigh Sampson each composed a movement of …of the spheres…, a nine-movement work inspired by our solar system.

Each movement pays homage to one of the nine planetary bodies. Nine members of the ADJ•ective Composers’ Collective collaborated with Michael Cushing and Heidi Westrick of University of Toledo Department of Physics and Astronomy to gain scientific insight about their assigned planet and write a movement that reflects that planet’s unique characteristics.

Van Maanen contributed the work’s first movement, Mercury: Bringing Dualities into Harmony. Smith wrote the fourth movement, Pluto: The Outcast. The work’s final movement, Jupiter: Bringing Chaos into Orbit, was composed by Sampson.

The Toledo Symphony Orchestra premiered …of the spheres… as part of the multidisciplinary performance The Planets: The Orchestra’s Guide to the Galaxy, which ran March 22 and 23. Designed as a celebration of the upcoming April 2024 total solar eclipse, the events also featured Gustav Holst’s influential suite The Planets and stunning visuals created by astronomer-photographer and KV 265 founder José Francisco Salgado. The performances were staged by the Toledo Alliance for the Performing Arts (TAPA) and supported by a $20,000 National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Grants for Arts Projects award.

Co-founded by Smith and Sampson in 2010, ADJ•ective New Music is an award-winning publishing and distribution company that has published a range of musical works and resources on extended techniques. In 2016, the company launched the ADJ•ective Composers’ Collective to unite self-published composers for the purpose of promoting contemporary music and the creative endeavors of their colleagues. The Collective has a multiyear history of collaboration with the Toledo Symphony Orchestra.