TWO SYMPHONIES BY Gertjan Zwiggelaar


  • Symphony Number 7, A Trip to Mars.  35:27
  • Symphony Number 8 in B flat Major.  30:06

A Trip to Mars begins with a mighty rocket taking off from Planet Earth and flying off into the space between the two planets.  At times marvellous phenomena drift past as the hours become days and months for the astronauts.  Gertjan makes excellent use of percussion and lonely sounding woodwinds illustrating the vastness of the space and the lonely confined environment of those living human beings sent on their mission to the Red Planet.  Mars is named after the Roman God of War.  A thud comes out of nowhere.  Something dropped.  Or, did something hit the ship?  Sprinkles of space dust touches the ports through which the astronauts view the strange new environment of outer space.  Time passes.  Boredom sets in.  The trip is so long in the cramped environment of the spaceship.  The astronauts move about here and there through the ship, checking on things and counting the time in their heads.  ‘Why did I come on this trip?’ are thoughts going through their minds.  It is such a long journey.  Eventually the astronauts spend a lot of time sleeping in their berths.  One can only read so many books; watch so many movies…

Eventually everyone has drifted off into their bunks and are asleep.

A single English horn comes out of space sprinkles.  A marimba joins the horn amongst the sprinkles of space.  Clarinets and a flute join in the dream states of the sleeping astronauts.  Some of them have visions of danger.  Others just enjoy the euphoria which has set in.  And yet, the sound of an Indian flute gives one the feeling of trepidation as it drifts off into a minor key.  Then, suddenly a fanfare and timpani herald an arrival up coming.

Violins gently and with some lovely screeching set the stage for the approach to the Red Planet.  Gradually the astronauts come out of their hibernation and begin to collect their thoughts as they need to ready the ship for landing.  Slowly, steadily they set about their various tasks; still somewhat cloudy in their brains from the deep sleep they were in.  Engines are tested.  Systems are checked.  All the lists are checked and rechecked.  The astronauts go about their tasks methodically and with single mindedness.  Nothing can be left to chance.  Landing on Mars is a serious business.  They can see the planet below and are sending messages to home; just in case something goes wrong.  The English horn has an idea and the astronauts discuss the plans; everyone wondering if they will come out of this alive and well.

A chime from the computer system tells everyone to get ready.  Engines are started.  Final adjustments are made.  The astronauts sit back into their seats and let the ship’s electronics take over.  Signals travel through the wires and over the WiFi as the ship descends towards the iron red surface of the mysterious planet.  The ship shudders and shakes.  Some rivets pop.  Trumpets and percussion herald the settling down of the ship into the dust of a ginger desert.


This piece begins with a tuning of instruments and is about the astronauts time on the Red Planet as they explore and experience a foreign place; Strangers in a Strange Land.  The listener is invited to draw their own images from the imaginative stirrings of this lovely Symphony.


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