Stand before any fish tank, be it a bowl on your bedroom dresser or a massive multi-gallon job at an aquarium, and you'll note the darting and flitting of the fish is almost melodic to the eyes.
The natural musicality of the movement created by creatures who call the water home is something that has long been noted by poets and biologists alike, but the Aquarium of the Pacific will build a bridge between sealife and sound on Sunday, Feb. 21.
"Ocean's Orchestra" is gathering together middle and high school students from around Southern California with the aim of "pairing the performing arts and science to interpret nature."
Twenty student musicians, with the backing of music education outfit WE ARE LIKE MUSIC, will gather before the Long Beach aquatic institution's Honda Blue Cavern, the three-story-tall window that provides a vast vista onto several forms of fishery. Violins and other instruments shall be played as fin-laden denizens swim past, creating a symphony that is both aural and visual.
Multiple rehearsals have given the students insight into "how the music they'll be performing relates to various animals in the Aquarium, along with..." "environmental issues such as the impact of global climate change and the importance of biodiversity." Thus the themes behind the music are as deep as the massive tank in which the fish swim and as complex as the life it holds.
This isn't the first musical adventure the Aquarium of the Pacific has taken. "A Symphony of Jellies" in 2015 employed "an algorithm that traces the movement of sea jellies and translates them into sounds," sounds that were then turned into a symphonic presentation by composers.
The student musicians, then, playing during the Ocean's Orchestra, are part of a longer legacy of the institution's devotion to connecting the arts with nature. Will a grouper's appearance summon some lower tones from a cello? Will a cameo by a shark inspire the musicians to play a bit faster?
See, and hear, for yourself as this buoyant musical experiment takes the stage -- or, a place before the Honda Blue Cavern -- at 7 o'clock on Feb. 21.