'Introduced Species' is a 19-20-minute work for orchestra in three continuous movements. The work is very programmatic in nature as per my current penchant for storytelling. The launching point for Introduced Species came from a work of art by Australian artist Matthew Quick…My work uses the story behind Intrepid Travellers (2010) from this series. In 1992, nearly 29,000 bath toys fell from the cargo ship Ever Laurel on its way from Hong Kong to the USA. Many of the bath toys were yellow rubber ducks. The ducks have since scattered and washed up on beaches all over the globe and even been sold on eBay (for quite a sum!). Scientists and oceanographers have studied their travels and been able to better understand ocean currents, wind patterns and ocean debris. Journalists, writers, artists have also shown much interest.
– Katy Abbott from Insight: Introduced Species
'Introduced Species' references events that occurred in an area of the Pacific Ocean known as the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. Here, oceanic currents circulate in a large rotating system, collecting marine debris and concentrating it in its centre. Also known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch or the Pacific Trash Vortex, much of the marine debris that is accumulating at the centres of these gyres is garbage from the neighbouring countries.
Much of the debris is various forms of plastic, which are not biodegradable but simply break into smaller pieces, forming a 'chemical soup' of microplastics. This marine debris is detrimental to the ocean wildlife as animals such as the albatross, which mistakens the plastics for food and either eats it or feeds it to its young.
There are four other major oceanic gyres (the Sound Pacific Subtropical Gyre, the North and South Atlantic Subtropical Gyres, and the Indian Ocean Subtropical Gyre) and they span vast areas of oceans, with the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre estimated to be up to three times the size of Australia.
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The first beaching was in Alaska, some 1500km away. Over the years there were more along the US West Coast, Russia and Hawaii. Tracked by scientists, the ducks’ journey has shed insight into ocean currents and wind patterns, spawning computer simulated models, articles and books. As a fable on the consequences of globalisation and the reality that is oceanic pollution, they have inspired artists and writers.
Against the vastness of the ocean, this childish plaything, man-made and indigenous to the bathtub, evokes the indomitable spirit of the first epic ocean voyages.
And in a parody of Herman Melville’s 1851 classic Moby-Dick, the out of scale human element adds whimsical curiosity to this quixotic 20 year odyssey.
- Matthew Quick
Ostinato: a short rhythm which is repeated through a section music.
Programmatic: refers to music written to convey a narrative.
Texture: aspects of music (or sounds) that don’t relate to melody or harmony. Think of the quality of the sound – gritty, scratchy strings; brittle harmonics; metallic brass; susurrate winds.
'Bowing the cymbal': the percussionist is instructed to use a bow (often that of a double bass) to pull across the edge of the cymbal, producing eerie sounds.
Col legno battuto: an Italian phrase, literally 'with wood hit' – an instruction for string instrument players to turn their bows around, and tap the wooden part on the strings.
Bartók Pizzicato: (also, snap pizzicato) a variation on pizzicato (plucking the string rather than bowing it), where the string is pulled vertically so that it snaps against the wood of the fingerboard.
Tremolo: an instruction for string players to rapidly change the direction of the bow on a single note; the effect is a trembling sound.
Gyre: large system of rotating ocean currents.
Microplastic: small piece of plastic that is less than five millimetres in length. Sources of microplastics include the degradation of large plastic debris into smaller pieces, and manufactures microbeads used as exfoliants in beauty products.
Trash Vortex: an area of an ocean where marine debris accumulates due to a gyre. Also referred to as a 'garbage patch.' The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is created by the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre accumulating man-made litter.
The Doppler effect: the observed change in frequency of a wave (such as sound) due to the motion of the wave source relative to the observer. For instance, the pitch of a siren sounds higher when it is approaching and lower when it has passed by.
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The Sydney Symphony Orchestra's performance of Introduced Species was filmed by The Arts Unit using six 360 cameras to capture the experience of the concert from within the orchestra itself, with another camera positioned above the stage for an all-encompassing view of the musicians. This configuration of cameras gives the viewer an unprecedented, unique and immersive experience of the orchestra and the concert.
Within this resource, videos of interviews with key musicians of the orchestra are embedded via hotspots to give the view a deeper understanding of the experience of performing in an orchestra and Katy Abbott's composition. The musicians will discuss their role, their instrument and how they got there.
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Katy Abbott - Composer
Iain Grandage - Conductor
Linda Lorenza - Director of Learning and Engagement
Amy Walsh - Education Manager
Tim Walsh - Education Manager & Photographer
Tim Diacos - Education Officer
Brendan Taylor - Production Coordinator
Aeva O'Dea - Production Assistant
Rosie Marks-Smith - Orchestra Coordinator
Daniela Testa - Photographer
Jhuny Boy Borja - Project Manager
Barry Nichols - Camera Operator
Eddy Gill - Camera Operator
David Todd - Camera Operator
Ana Tiwary - Video Producer
Trevor Robertson - Sound Recordist
Andrew Piper - Video Editor
Michelle Stephens - Student Access and Engagement Officer
Carolyn Hammer - Digital Engagement Advisor
Stan W Kornel