Explore The Planets with The Phoenix Symphony and ASU’s Kip Hodges

Join us at a private reception and lecture with Kip Hodges and Bruce Pulk followed by a musical voyage through the planets featuring 3D NASA images accompanied by Conductor Michael Christie and the talents of the female members of the Phoenix Symphony Chorus.

The evening will begin with a private reception and a lively presentation by ASU School of Earth and Space Exploration (SESE) Director Kip Hodges, who will discuss the knowledge gained through exploration, focusing on the composition of the planets and how this information relates to the 19th-century understanding of the solar system. A short address from Phoenix Symphony Principal Timpanist Bruce Pulk will follow.

After the discussion, the Phoenix Symphony and Conductor Michael Christie will take the audience on a musical voyage through the solar system with Gustav Holst’s most popular composition, The Planets. Explore the astrological and emotional influence of seven planets from our solar system in this large-scale orchestral suite, which will be accompanied by the projection of amazing 3-D computer graphics based on NASA and the Hubble telescope photography and the talents of the female members of the Phoenix Symphony Chorus.

“Exploration is really the essence of the human spirit.”
Frank Borman, NASA astronaut and engineer                           

about SESE
The frontiers of Earth and outer space have captivated our imaginations, providing opportunities for seemingly unlimited discovery. As soon as we can crawl, we are drawn to explore our surroundings and, as our horizons expand, faraway places. Increasingly powerful telescopes enable us to look farther into the universe to understand our origins, and travelling to places once accessible only in our imaginations is now possible. We have charted the poles of Earth, from its highest mountains to its deepest oceans. Spacecraft carry our scientific instruments and human explorers beyond the confines of Earth, and our scientific probes are now speeding across the solar system — in some cases on a course that will take them to interstellar space. Our horizons are endless and there seem to be no limits to our potential as explorers of the unknown.

Established in 2006, Arizona State University’s School of Earth and Space Exploration (SESE) is designed to conduct and develop new strategies for world-class scientific exploration, to educate a new generation of explorers and to promote a greater public understanding and appreciation of science. By fusing many modes of inquiry, SESE’s professors and students are exploring our home world and the universe beyond while finding solutions to grand scientific and societal challenges. The school’s research portfolio spans every continent on Earth and beyond, from the moon to the edges of the universe.

Kip Hodges is the director and foundation professor for the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University. He received his doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1982. With research focusing on structural geology, regional tectonics, metamorphic and igneous petrology, isotope geochemistry, geochronology, and geomorphology, Hodges’ field areas have included Baja California; the East Greenland, Irish, and Norwegian Caledonides; the U.S. sector of the North American Cordillera; and the Peruvian Andes. For the past 25 years, much of his research has focused on the Himalayas and Tibet.

In addition to his role as founding director of SESE, Hodges serves as the scientific director of ASU’s Noble Gas Geochemistry and Geochronology Laboratories. These state-of-the-art facilities are designed to support a wide range of tectonics and geochemical studies, with special emphasis on the design and implementation of advanced analytical instrumentation for geochronology and thermochronology.

The 2011–12 season marks Michael Christie’s eighth year as the Virginia G. Piper Music Director of the Phoenix Symphony. He also celebrates his eleventh as music director of the Colorado Music Festival, presented each summer in Boulder, Colo., where festival attendance has reached all-time highs. From 2005–2010 he served as music director of the Brooklyn Philharmonic, bringing his artistry and innovative programming to New York City and beyond. From 2001–04, he was the artistic director and chief conductor of the Queensland Orchestra in Brisbane, Australia. 

Maestro Christie has been recognized for adventurous programming by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, and passionately advocates for concerts that connect orchestras to its audience in enlightening and inspirational ways. He has broken down barriers between performers and patrons through his engaging Intermission Insights interviews as well as real-time program notes called Clef Notes. In addition to extra-musical enhancements to performances, Christie has been a driving force in internationally acclaimed collaborations with symphony orchestras and various “indie-rock” ensembles. 

During his sixteen-year professional conducting career, Christie has appeared with well over 100 orchestras across North America and Europe. North American highlights include performances with the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestras and the St. Louis, Atlanta, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Dallas symphonies. Overseas, he has been honored to conduct Berlin’s Deutsches Symphony Orchestra, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and the Czech Philharmonic, among others. His ties to orchestras in Scandinavia have been particularly strong with engagements in all five countries. 

Christie has also established a strong reputation as an opera conductor. In June 2009, he made his critically acclaimed North American staged opera debut with a new production of John Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles with the Opera Theatre of St. Louis — a production that was immediately revived at the Wexford Festival Opera. He conducted a new production of Ghosts at the 2010 Aspen Music Festival. During this season he conducted Verdi’s La Traviata, led the professional staged premier of Bernard Herrmann’s Wuthering Heights at the Minnesota Opera, and returned to the Opera Theatre of St. Louis for a new production of John Adams’ Death of Klinghoffer. He has conducted both opera and ballet performances at the Zurich Opera, where he was assistant conductor to Franz Welser-Möst for the 1997–98 Season. He has also worked with the Finnish National Opera and with the Queensland Opera. 

Christie first came to international attention in 1995 when he was awarded a special prize at the First International Sibelius Conductor’s Competition in Helsinki at age 21. He subsequently became an apprentice conductor with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, then moved to associate conductor of the Helsinki Philharmonic. Christie graduated from the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music with a bachelor’s degree in trumpet performance.

Bruce Pulk was born on Beethoven’s birthday in Detroit in 1950. His early training on piano was supplemented with percussion studies in fourth grade, when his piano teacher expressed concern about his rhythm. Pulk’s fifth-grade band director was so impressed with Pulk’s progress that he successfully obtained a scholarship for private lessons with Salvatore Rabbio, principal timpanist with the Detroit Symphony.

Most of Pulk’s summers were spent at the National Music Camp at Interlochen, Mich., while junior and senior high nights were spent playing in various youth symphonies and local orchestras.

While at Interlochen, Pulk won a full scholarship to the University of Michigan, where he studied with James Salmon and Charles Owen. He gained further experience playing with the University of Michigan band and orchestra programs, the Flint Symphony, the Detroit Chamber Orchestra, the Toledo Symphony, the Jackson Symphony and the Colorado Philharmonic.

After college, Pulk was the principal timpanist artist-in-residence with the Grand Rapids Symphony for eight years, before moving to his present position as principal timpanist with the Phoenix Symphony.

Pulk’s avid interest in the art of music is demonstrated by his enormous record and CD collection supplemented by his large collection or orchestra scores. He conducts his own orchestra (the Grand Salon Orchestra) and can often be found at the helm of the Phoenix and Mesa Symphonies as a guest conductor. His interest in sharing knowledge and passion has resulted in his successful pre-concert chat series for the Phoenix Symphony. Pulk lives in Chandler with his wife Mary Ann and their two sons.