Live Student Ensemble to Translate Fish Movements into Music at the Aquarium

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Photo courtesy of the Aquarium of the Pacific

The Aquarium of the Pacific has announced that Ocean’s Orchestra, a new project catered to regional middle and high school students, will combine the performing arts and science. A collaboration between music students from Los Angeles County, music education team WE ARE LIKE MUSIC and the Aquarium, Ocean’s Orchestra will use music to translate the movements of fish during a live musical performance at the Aquarium on Sunday, February 21.

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Ocean’s Orchestra will be performed as the aquatic residents of the aquarium’s Honda Blue Cavern exhibit swim past musical staff lines placed on the nearly three-story-tall exhibit window. A group of 20 students playing stringed instruments will interpret the movements of the fish into music. Following the ensemble performance, those in attendance will be invited to visit other exhibits throughout the institution to hear small groups of musicians interpreting the movements of other marine life, such as sea jellies and tropical fish, according to the announcement.

“The arts, particularly music, can help us make an emotional connection to nature, inspiring us to care for the ecosystems and animals it encompasses,” stated Dr. Jerry Schubel, Aquarium of the Pacific president and CEO. “It is gratifying to involve young students in our mission to instill a sense of wonder, respect, and stewardship for the Pacific Ocean through this project.”

Lem Jay Ignacio and Leo Kitajima of music education think tank WE ARE LIKE MUSIC co-produced the 2014 fall workshop with students that inspired this upcoming experimental performance. WE ARE LIKE MUSIC cofounder Kitajima stated that the organization’s goal is to bring interesting ideas and young musicians together to inspire new ways of thinking.

“We hope that through this collaboration with the Aquarium, the project changes the perspective of everyone involved," she said in a statement. "We want people to see the Aquarium as a musical space and kid musicians as advocates for marine life.”

Ocean’s Orchestra follows several musical initiatives spearheaded by the aquarium in recent years, including a project commissioned by the aquarium called Symphony of Jellies that was debuted to the public in December 2015. Scientists created an algorithm to track the movements of sea jellies and translate them into sounds, which were then turned into a symphony by composers. The aquarium has also hosted performances by the Long Beach Symphony Chamber Players, Long Beach Chorale and Long Beach Opera. In 2013 the aquarium commissioned a symphonic work by Grammy Award-winning composer Steven Mackey entitled Urban Ocean that was premiered by the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra, according to the release.

For more information and to purchase tickets for Ocean’s Orchestra, click here

The Aquarium of the Pacific is located at 100 Aquarium Way. 

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