Sea Creatures Come to Life in Ocean’s Orchestra at Aquarium

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Photo credit John Wan

Photo credit John Wan

The Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach announces Ocean’s Orchestra, a new project that will engage regional middle and high school students in pairing the performing arts and science to interpret nature. A collaboration between music students from Los Angeles County, music education team WE ARE LIKE MUSIC and the Aquarium, Ocean’s Orchestra will feature performances—using music to translate the movements of fish—in a live musical event at the Aquarium on Sunday, February 21, 2016.

Ocean’s Orchestra will be performed live before an audience as the inhabitants 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 twenty students playing stringed instruments will translate the movements of the fish into music. Following this ensemble performance, the audience members are invited to visit other exhibits throughout the Aquarium and hear small groups of musicians interpreting the movements of other marine life such as sea jellies and tropical fish.

Through a series of rehearsals, students from Los Angeles-area schools will learn how the music they’ll be performing relates to various animals in the Aquarium, along with the ways environmental issues such as the impact of global climate change and the importance of biodiversity will inspire these musical pieces. “The arts, particularly music, can help us make an emotional connection to nature, inspiring us to care for the ecosystems and animals it encompasses. 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,” said Dr. Jerry Schubel, Aquarium of the Pacific president and CEO.

Lem Jay Ignacio and Leo Kitajima of music education think tank WE ARE LIKE MUSIC coproduced the workshop in fall of 2014 with students that inspired Ocean’s Orchestra. “Our organization puts interesting ideas and young musicians together to think in new ways. We hope that through this collaboration with the Aquarium, the project changes the perspective of everyone involved. We want people to see the Aquarium as a musical space and kid musicians as advocates for marine life,” said Leo Kitajima, cofounder, WE ARE LIKE MUSIC.

Ocean’s Orchestra builds upon a number of musical initiatives undertaken by the Aquarium in recent years. These include a project commissioned by the Aquarium called Symphony of Jellies that recently debuted to the public during an evening lecture in December 2015. Scientists created an algorithm that tracks the movements of sea jellies (or jellyfish) and translates them into sounds, and then composers turned the sounds into a symphony. The Aquarium has also hosted performances by the Long Beach Symphony Chamber Players, Long Beach Chorale, and Long Beach Opera, which presented the U.S. premiere of a work by composer Gavin Bryars called The Paper Nautilus in 2012. In 2013 the Aquarium commissioned a symphonic work by Grammy Award-winning composer Steven Mackey called Urban Ocean that was premiered by the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra.

Ocean’s Orchestra
Sunday, February 21, 2016 at 7:00 p.m.-9:30 p.m.
Aquarium of the Pacific
100 Aquarium Way
Long Beach, CA 90802

Tickets are $14.95 per person and $9.95 per Aquarium member.

About the Aquarium
The nonprofit Aquarium of the Pacific is a community gathering place where diverse cultures and the arts are celebrated and where important challenges facing our planet are explored by scientists, policymakers, and stakeholders in search of sustainable solutions. The Aquarium is dedicated to conserving and building nature and nature’s services by building the interactions between and among peoples. Home to more than 11,000 animals, Aquarium exhibits include the June Keyes Penguin Habitat, Ocean Science Center, Molina Animal Care Center, the interactive Shark Lagoon and Lorikeet Forest exhibits, and the new Jellies exhibits. Beyond its animal exhibits, the Aquarium offers educational programs for people of all ages, from hands-on activities to lectures by leading scientists. The Aquarium has won a 2015 Travelers’ Choice Award for Aquariums, as awarded by TripAdvisor® travelers. The Aquarium offers memberships with unlimited FREE admission for 12 months, VIP Entrance, and other special benefits. To purchase tickets, visit or call 562-590-3100.

WE ARE LIKE MUSIC produces creative projects for young musicians using nontraditional spaces and concepts and empowers the unique voices of students through projects that range from new music ensembles to beat-making workshops.


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