The Deep

For: organ

Duration: 8'30" (three movements)

Program Note: Ever since I was a kid, I have had a deep love and appreciation for ocean creatures. I found delight in the weird and wonderful lifeforms swimming on the pages of my world almanac.
It amazes me that even despite humans continually pouring garbage and toxic waste into the ocean, jellyfish continue to thrive. Jellyfish - they seem so thin and fragile! Of course, the term “jellyfish” itself is a misnomer - there are a few sub- categories of life that are actually vastly different from one another all lumped into this umbrella term. In fact, the jellyfish that inspires the first movement, the Ctenaphore, is not considered a real jellyfish.
At first glance, the organ is an odd choice for a piece about jellyfish. However, you will soon hear that no single instrument is better equipped to handle the majestic backdrop of the deep ocean and the delicate shimmering of bioluminescence at the same time.

1. Ctenophora
You are a small fish swimming in the deep Suddenly, a beam of man-made light hits the area you are swimming in. Next to you, your friends the Ctenaphores light up like prisms. Their small transparent bodies are lined with rows of tiny eyelashes that move in unison to help them dance quickly through the water. These hairs refract the beam of light from above, forming pulsating rainbows to your eyes.

2. Stygiomedusa gigantea
You are a scientist in an underwater research vessel. The water is dark, with little spots of light organic matter freckling the black like stars. You pan your camera, and see a ghost-like creature, 33 meters long, lurking behind you. It is dark red, with four massively long, billowing arms and a large undulating head. It slowly drifts below your vessel like a spirit sinking back into Hell. You are left amazed.

3. Aurelia aurita
You are a child visiting an aquarium for the first time. You enter a dark room, where a giant tubular tank of moon jellyfish swirl gently up and down in front of you. The translucent, saucer-like creatures glow a gentle blue hue in the dark. Even though you know they must sting, you want to reach in and touch their magic.

Performances: recording by Dr. Trisha Snyder, 2022.