About Introduced Species

'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

The Trash Vortex

'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.

For more information, visit the following web pages:

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.

Music techniques

'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.

The environment and other concepts

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.

Resource requirements

Viewing the resource through a web browser

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.

This resource should work on the latest versions of all major browsers including Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer. Mobile browsers are also supported including Google Chrome on Android and Safari on iOS (Apple devices). When using a touch-enabled device to view the 360 video version, pinch-and-zoom and swipe gestures are supported to change your view of the orchestra.

When viewing, the quality of the 360 video will adapt to your internet connection speed. Please be aware that your experience may accrue additional costs if you are using mobile data. We recommend viewing this resource through a wired broadband internet connection.

The resource supports a range of VR headsets including Google Cardboard, Samsung Gear VR, Oculus, HTC Vive and Daydream. Please refer to your headset's manuals for recommendations regarding headset usage.

About The Arts Unit Digital Engagement

NSW Department of Education The Arts Unit provides students and teachers with highly motivating and engaging opportunities that inspire their creative potential. The Arts Unit delivers programs in dance, drama, music, visual arts, debating, public speaking, reading, spelling and special events.

The Arts Unit Digital Engagement provides online access to arts education and professional development (PD), engaging students and teachers throughout NSW.

Content is delivered by experts and accompanied by useful classroom resources. It ranges from NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) registered and non-registered courses, to virtual excursions, streamed events and extensive digital libraries. This ensures learning supports teacher accreditation requirements and is relevant, memorable and meaningful for everyone.

Register today with The Arts Unit Learning Hub  to browse and enjoy high quality digital engagement content. You will be notified through the hub as new NESA registered courses are available on MyPL.

About Sydney Symphony Orchestra — Learning and Engagement

Founded in 1932 by the ABC, the SSO has evolved into one of the world's finest orchestras as Sydney has become one of the world's great cities. Resident at the Sydney Opera House, the SSO also performs regularly at City Recital Hall, tours NSW and internationally, and it is well on its way to becoming the premier orchestra of the Asia Pacific region. The SSO's concerts encompass masterpieces from the classical repertoire, music by some of the finest living composers, and collaborations with guest artists from all genres, reflecting the orchestra's versatility and diverse appeal.

The SSO's award-winning Learning and Engagement program is central to its commitment to the future of live symphonic music — nurturing audiences and engaging the participation of young people. In addition to Family Concerts in Sydney, activities such as Playerlink and regional schools concerts expand the orchestra's reach beyond Sydney to inspire students throughout NSW and Australia. The SSO also promotes the work of Australian composers through performances, recordings and its commissioning program, and the SSO Live label captures the orchestra's performances in recordings.

Visit Sydney Symphony Orchestra's website.


Sydney Symphony Orchestra

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

The Arts Unit

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


First Violins

Lerida Delbridge

Jenny Booth

Georges Lentz

Emily Long

Sercan Danis

Rollin Zhao

Second Violins

Marianne Edwards

Emma Hayes

Stan W Kornel

Benjamin Li

Maja Verunica

Tobias Aan


Justin Williams

Stuart Johnson

Felicity Tsai

Justin Julian


Leah Lynn

Elizabeth Neville

Adrian Wallis

Daniel Pini

Double Basses

Richard Lynn

Jaan Pallandi

Hamish Gullick


Rachel Howie


Eve Osborn


Christopher Tingay

Magdalenna Krstevska


Alison Wormell


Aidan Gabriels


Jenna Smith


Amanda Tillett


Brian Nixon


Rebecca Lagos

Sami Butler


Emily Granger


Christina Leonard

Find out more about The Arts Unit Digital Engagement

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