February 24 - 25, 2024

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Feel the power and beauty of the Ocala Symphony Orchestra’s full string section. Stella Sung’s KOHOLA: Spirit of the Ocean will be performed side by side with stunning video work by award-winning producer and underwater photographer Annie Crawley, while guest soloist Danielle Moreau will lead us on an incredible journey with Emmanuel Séjourné’s Concerto for Marimba and Strings. The program is rounded out with Albinoni’s Adagio for Strings and Organ and the ethereal Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis by Ralph Vaughan-Williams.

Matthew Wardell, Music Director and Conductor

Artist Statement by Annie Crawley:

Humpback whales migrate thousands of miles each year from their polar feeding grounds to tropical and subtropical areas to breed and give birth, living off their fat stores. They have lived on our planet for millions of years. During the 20th century, more than 200,000 humpback whales were taken, reducing their population by more than 90%. The International Whaling Commission banned commercial humpback whaling in 1966 to prevent extinction as their global population depleted to 5,000 animals. In 1970 they were protected by the Endangered Species Act and the King of Tonga declared his people will no longer hunt humpback whales, but that we will swim with them. During the past 50 years, they’ve rebounded worldwide to nearly 80,000 whales and have been classified into 14 distinct populations, nine of which no longer need to be considered endangered. I’ve had the pleasure to swim, photograph and film these sentient beings in the wild around the world. In Kohola I share with you what it’s like to visit the humpback whale nursery in Tonga as well as play with a subadult humpback whale. The mother keeps her baby close, caressing one another as the mother nurses and cares for her baby. When you look into the eye of a mother humpback whale, she shares her life story with you. Kohola shares intimate moments between a mother humpback whale, her baby, me, and you. As they surface to breathe, notice the mother looking into your eye, allowing her baby to greet us, saying hello, before being called back to her mama. The mother and baby humpback whales communicate with one another through whisper like grunts and squeaks to avoid predators, inaudible to us. Part of a male humpback whale’s song which I captured in the field with a hydrophone is embedded in the sound design of Kohola to transport you to their world. After one year of caring for her baby, the young whale must find their way in the world on their own.

Kohola envisioned by composer Stella Sung shines a light on humpback whales. After collaborating on Oceana to raise awareness about noise pollution, she created this upbeat and hopeful composition to celebrate life and that of the humpback whale. It’s been extraordinary to visualize Stella’s composition to take you into our ocean. There’s a thin blue line of separation between the gravity world in which we live and that of these incredible whales. When Stella asked me to lend my work and creativity to the composition, I dived deep into the collaboration knowing the potential impact we could create through our art and passions. I hope Kohola inspires you to dive deeper into understanding the importance of the ocean in our lives, as well as our planet’s. It covers 70% of planet Earth, which I believe should be called Planet Ocean. Less explored than outer space, it is our life source. Holding 98% of our water, producing 70% of the oxygen we breathe, and feeding our world, our ocean’s story unites and connects all of us. Learn more: www.OurOceanAndYou.com

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