Sound Mimics Movement in Premiere of CHORALE OF THE JELLIES at Long Beach Aquarium Friday

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Photos by Asia Morris. Composer Eddie Freeman and Long Beach Chorale Assistant Director and Pianist Beth Syverson conduct rehearsal for Music in the Key of Sea at the Aquarium of the Pacific.

Close your eyes and let the Long Beach Chorale take you on a sea jelly journey, as their voices rise and you drift with the ocean current, pulsing and puffing your way through the Pacific. 

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The Music in the Key of Sea concert at the Aquarium of the Pacific will take place on Friday, June 10 at 7:00PM. 50 Long Beach Chorale voices, accompanied by projected video, will perform a program of ocean and marine life-themed music with the aquarium’s Honda Blue Cavern exhibit as the backdrop. The chorale’s assistant director and pianist, Beth Syverson, will conduct the program.

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Friday’s program will include two movements from the Symphony of the Jellies, a piece commissioned by the aquarium last year and rearranged by composer Eddie Freeman of Icarus Music exclusively for this premiere. The Symphony of the Jellies was originally an instrumental work that used an algorithm developed by scientist Marty Quinn at Design Rhythmics Sonification Research Lab to translate sea jelly movements into music, according to the release. Freeman, who will conduct this portion of the concert on Friday, deconstructed the musical motifs and orchestration for the talented singers of the Long Beach Chorale.

“Unfortunately jellies have really, really terrible time,” said Freeman with a laugh, commenting on the difficulty of arranging Chorale of the Jellies. “That’s why there’s all these tempo changes. We did it electronically at first, where we said, ‘Okay, this number is this note.’ But what Jerry [Schubel] wanted to do was make it like Peter and the Wolf, where each jelly had its own motif, or sound, to it.”

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Freeman went on to describe the original symphonic arrangement, where Egg Yolk jellies were represented with the brass instruments, the Moon Jellies were represented with a harp and so on and so forth. Composing and translating the jellies’ movements for voices proved to be a bit tricky, with the end results a moving, and emotional, success.

“I love it,” continued Freeman, speaking during the chorale rehearsal on Wednesday night. “First of all the choir is phenomenal and you know, it’s really emotional. I was almost at tears. A lot has to do with the performers and if you have great musicians and great singers, you're going to be in the ballpark. You’re going to be playing at that point. I think that it translates extremely well, surprisingly.”

The program will also include OM for Chorus and Whale by Long Beach Chorale Founding Director Mark Barville. The piece was first performed almost 20 years ago by the chorale for the aquarium’s opening day on June 20, 1998. Other music on the program will celebrate penguins, mermaids, octopuses and ocean-themed folk songs from Japan, Cuba, Italy and the United States, according to the announcement.

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Food and beverages will be available for purchase before and after the concert, and attendees will be able to view the aquarium’s exhibits. Doors open at 7:00PM and the concert begins at 7:30PM. Tickets are $30 per adult (ages 12+) and $18 for students with valid ID and children ages three to 11. Aquarium members can purchase tickets at $25 for adults and $15 for member students and children. The ticket price includes aquarium admission.

To watch Music in the Key of Sea live online, visit the aquarium's website here. For more information about Long Beach Chorale, click here.

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

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