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June 2024 | Planets & Empowerment

Updated: May 16

Ever wonder what Hello Girls, Canaries, and the “Rose of No Man’s Land” had to do with World War One? To find out, join Tames Alan, known for her popular Living History Lectures, and the Bremerton WestSound Symphony in a unique WWI-era collaboration of music, history, and women’s roles on the Western Front during the War to End All Wars. 

Of the eighteen women ambulance drivers who were sent to France, three were from Bremerton. Tames Alan, appearing in authentic uniforms, will use dramatized diary entries and stunning period photographs to bring to life women who volunteered in the Great War. Since music played a big part in WWI, the audience will be encouraged to join in a singalong of five popular songs from that era. 

Tames’s engaging historical commentary will be interspersed with selections from Gustav Holst’s The Planets, which was one of three groundbreaking symphonic works from the beginning of the 20th century. Holst employed a huge orchestra and forged new dimensions in rhythmic drive and sheer volume while tearing apart the old concept of staid, boring classical music. While each movement names a planet, his inspiration was astrological and historical, not astronomical.

Venus has little to do with the exceedingly hot planet shrouded in clouds, but is a depiction of calm, feminine beauty. 

Jupiter is jovial. The king of the gods is larger than life and commands a massive brass section. In Holst’s version, Jupiter seems to have touched down on earth in the middle of a great British manor and the entire orchestra intones a singularly English hymn.

Mercury, flitting speedily from here to there as the messenger of the gods, was also known as the divine trickster. Holst’s mercurial scherzo illustrates him perfectly.

Uranus, known as “The Magician,” employs a bouncing rhythm and bassoon-heavy instrumentation to depict the sorcerer performing his wizardry. Interestingly, Paul Dukas used the same rhythm and the same instruments twenty years earlier in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

Finally, Mars, the “Bringer of War,” is a rhythmic pounding of menace, marching, and destruction. Holst was a bit of a prophet, in that he composed this shortly before the horrors of WWI began. This piece has been associated with the Great War ever since.

This war was a pivotal point for women’s emancipation. Many went straight from Edwardian drawing rooms to the horrors of the battlefield, and left no doubt in anyone’s mind that they could face the hardships of war with courage and composure, thus paving the way for women’s rights to become a reality. 

Tames Alan’s Classic Collaborations is a natural extension of her Living History Lectures that she has toured throughout the United States and Canada since 1987. Using her decades of experience, lively presentation style, and in-depth research, Tames collaborates with orchestras to create costumed musical adventures that  engage audiences in what it was like to live during the time the music was played, giving audiences an immersive experience of an era through music, fashion, and culture. 

Join us afterward for a meet-and-greet with Ms. Alan and enjoy a donut and cup of coffee, just like those given out in the makeshift canteens at the front.


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