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Orchestra Nova Goes Green With New ‘Surf’-Inspired Work

Orchestra Nova (formerly known as San Diego Chamber Orchestra) is led by arti...

Credit: Greg Merino

Above: Orchestra Nova (formerly known as San Diego Chamber Orchestra) is led by artistic director and conductor Jung-Ho Pak.

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When you think of surf music, musicians like Dick Dale, The Surfaris, The Ventures and The Beach Boys may come to mind, along with the genre's signature staccato electric guitar riffs, and classic tunes like "Wipeout" and "Surfin' Safari." However, a new composition premiering this Friday at San Diego's Orchestra Nova may expand your notions about surf music. The work combines elements of classical, rock, pop and electronica to re-create the experience and freedom of riding the waves.

The work is called "Surf" and it's part of Orchestra Nova's new concert series, a musical homage to Mother Nature called "Nova Goes Green". The series pairs two classics, Beethoven’s “Pastoral Symphony” and Ralph Vaughan Williams’ “The Lark Ascending,” with two contemporary works. In addition to "Surf", audiences can enjoy Steve Heitzeg's “Aqua”, a tribute to Jacques-Yves Cousteau featuring natural percussion instruments including driftwood, coral, river stones and even plastic six-pack rings.

"Surf" composer and SDSU professor of music Joseph Waters was commissioned by Orchestra Nova to create a piece about Southern California. Inspired by the central role that surfing plays in the Southern Californian lifestyle, he composed a double concerto, which he describes as his "wild ride for orchestra and two soloists", in a recent interview with U-T San Diego. "Surf" features soloists Lindsay Deutsch (violin) and Todd Rewoldt (saxophone), who will perform with Orchestra Nova this Friday, Saturday and Monday.

Waters tells the U-T San Diego: "Like much of my recent work, 'Surf' has one foot in classical and the other in rock. Doing a rock piece for orchestra can be an extremely cheesy affair—destroying the rawness of rock & the nuance of classical and leaving one with a saccharine hangover. But my underlying intention was to create a work that draws from folk influences and infuses them with additional layers, in the tradition of Mahler. It took a lot of work but I am proud of this piece—and to get it right I recomposed it over 230 times, until it finally passed muster with the conductor." (Read more about what inspired Waters to compose "Surf".)

KPBS Midday Edition speaks with Waters and Jung-Ho Pak, artistic director and conductor of Orchestra Nova, about the green concert series and composing a musical ode to SoCal's surfing culture.

Orchestra Nova’s “Nova Goes Green” concert series will be performed Friday, Saturday and Monday at various locations. Visit for more information.


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