People's Climate Change: San Francisco Symphony Percussionist Jacob Nissly, Composer Mason Bates Shop at Henry Ford Junkyard for 'Alternative Energy'

By Maria Jean Sullivan on Sep 23, 2014 03:04 PM EDT

Jacob Nissly, the San Francisco Symphony's principal percussionist, recently took a trip to the Henry Ford junkyard to shop for music instruments with composer Mason Bates.

The shopping excursion is an effort to look for instruments for the SFS's premiere of Bates's symphony Alternative Energy at Davies Symphony Hall.

Bates's Alternative Energy is, ostensibly, a symphony that spans four movements and hundreds of years, beginning in a Midwestern junkyard in the late 19th century. The piece travels through forces of energy such as a present-day particle collider, a futuristic Chinese nuclear plant and a future Icelandic rainforest.

In the latest episode of Alternative Energy, Bates and Nissly search the junkyard for objects of varying pitch and sound. The varying parts include a muffler, front fender and hood hinge.

"What's fun about this is that it's not a billion-dollar, old Italian instrument," said Nissy, holding the front fender of a car. "I can make it better or worse on my own by pounding different parts of it."

For the performance, the piece requires a laptop, six speakers placed around the orchestra and a few onstage monitors.

Take a look at the mesmerizing experience of finding music in every elements of life:

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TagsMason Bates, Alternative Energy, San Francisco Symphony, Jacob Nissly

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