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Water, Water, Everywhere

Youth Music Extravaganza

The Latest Update

Santa Monica Symphony performs Waterless Music

Posted on January 8, 2017 by Benjamin Boone

The Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra, Guido Lamell conductor, gave a stunning performance of Waterless Music on October 9, 2017 in Santa Monica. 

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Waterless Music, Benjamin Boone, performed by FOOSA Philharmonic June 2015

Posted on April 3, 2016 by Youth Orchestras of Fresno


It Was Great–and It Doesn’t End There!

Posted on June 10, 2015 by Youth Orchestras of Fresno

Here’s a report on the May 24 premiere of Ben Boone’s Water(less) Music.

But the great news it that it doesn’t stop with that performance. We’re taking the work to Los Angeles on June 26. Our FOOSA Philharmonic will perform the piece at Walt Disney Concert Hall in a free concert 6/26 at 8:00pm. (Also on the program: Mozart Overture to Don Giovanni, Hindemith Symphonic Metamorphosis, Shostakovich Symphony No. 12, and Marquez Danzón No. 2.)

Boone’s piece will also be on the program on Sunday June 28 back in Fresno at the Satellite Student Union on the Fresno State campus at 4:00pm. 

So…the world premiere–here’s what went down:

Our Water, Water, Everywhere Youth Music Extravaganza on May 24 was a smashing (or should we say splashing?) success. The lobby of the Saroyan Theatre was filled with artwork and other displays relating to water and drought and water conservation–exciting and informative. Crowds prowled and admired. 

Our advanced Youth Philharmonic performed Wagner’s Overture to the Flying Dutchman, Bernstein’s On the Waterfront Suite, and Debussy’s La Mer. Then the hordes descended, as more than three hundred young musicians swarmed the stage and spilled off into the pit to perform, together, Handel’s Water Music

Then came the world premiere of Benjamin Boone’s Water(less) Music, written expressly for the occasion to include the more than 300 musicians assembled. The work also included parts for water itself, manipulated by percussionists and amplified to dramatic audibility. And, even more dramatically, Boone had woven into his piece the recorded voice of late poet Philip Levine, reading from his own poems and seeming to comment on urgent questions about water and life as the work progressed. The work was an homage to water and, more intimately, an homage to Levine. 

The crowd (an audience of nearly 2,000) went wild.

A final nod to the watery theme had the young players pulling out their eye patches and three-cornered hats as they tickled listening children with Pirates of the Caribbean. Then it was cookies for all!

The following video snippet shows a bit of Boone’s piece (the flashing colored lights illuminate the water bowls set up in the percussion section).

Gearing up for the BIG PERFORMANCE on May 24!

Posted on May 14, 2015 by Youth Orchestras of Fresno

Ben Boone’s piece, programmed to be performed right after Handel’s Water Music, is called Water(less) Music.

Oddly, water will be played as an instrument (we will conserved as much as possible during the performance!).

Here’s our poster…watery!



The Youth Orchestras of Fresno will build a community-wide project around the subject of water—its essential nature, its invisibility, its excess and/or scarcity. This is a topic of particularly pressing interest in California, where governor Jerry Brown has declared a drought emergency, appealing to citizens to dramatically curtail water use. The water shortage has hit Califonia’s Central Valley particularly hard.

The main event will be our Youth Music Extravaganza concert on Memorial Day weekend 2015, which will feature 300-plus young musicians (all three of our orchestras and our Accent on Access Violin Program students), as well as the audience, in a commissioned work by composer Benjamin Boone.

The Youth Orchestras have a vivid history of such extravaganzas—last year’s JOY Project featured our 300+ players and a 200-voice chorus in a performance of Beethoven Nine along with a specially commissioned Ode-to-Joy-inspired work (again for 300+ players), A Beautiful Spark, by Kenneth Froelich. The year before that had marked our first collaboration with Benjamin Boone, with another audience-interactive work tailored to the Central Valley: Fresno sin Frenos: Mariachi Madness, which included, as part of the piece, performances by a local high school mariachi group and a young dancer, along with intense audience participation (schoolchildren had made percussion instruments to play; adults were encouraged to use their car-keys, hands, feet…) and concerts not only in Fresno but also at Disney Hall in Los Angeles.

Key to all of these projects is the notion of community-wide involvement, with schoolchildren engaged in their classrooms and art rooms, artists of all stripes and ages producing works for display at the concert venue (our largest downtown theater), and a series of theme-related events–lectures, discussions, documentary screenings–leading, like stepping stones, to the concert itself, where the audience will be incorporated into the commissioned work. There is no limit to the number of people who can be involved. The concert is offered free of charge. At past events attendance has exceeded 2,000, and participation overall (attendance at related events, creation of artwork, participation in ancillary classroom activities) has doubled that number. As always, print materials will be provided in both English and Spanish.

Access, inclusion, excellence–and fun!

Project Media

Fresno sin Frenos: Mariachi Madness; Benjamin Boone, composer
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Fresno sin Frenos (Fresno Without Brakes) was the Youth Orchestras’ first collaboration with Benjamin Boone, who researched local mariachi traditions before creating this intentionally accessible work. This clip begins after the high school mariachi ensemble has left the stage, but just before the 16-year-old dancer enters. At 6 minutes the composer returns to conduct the audience. Note hand-made instruments visible in front rows. Also note young musicians overflowing the stage and standing in the pit. Everyone was included! (May 2013)

A Beautiful Spark, Kenneth Froelich, composer
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This was the second Youth Music Extravaganza for the Youth Orchestras. This time the composer was asked to incorporate Beethoven’s Ode to Joy in the work for a massive, multi-level group of young musicians. Also on the program was a performance of the Ninth Symphony with a chorus of 200. After the concert the entire audience, many of whom had brought their own instruments, joined in with the Accent on Access (El-Sistema-inspired after-school program) violinists and other musicians to play and sing the Ode to Joy again. (May 2014)

Start and End Dates



Fresno, California

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Last update on January 8, 2017

Project Created By

Fresno, California
The Youth Orchestras of Fresno encompass three orchestral ensembles and a free afterschool violin program, serving more than 300 young musicians in California’s Central Valley. The organization is dedicated to commissioning original music—sometimes premiering more than one new work per season. Our FOOSA Festival/Fresno Summer Orchestra Academy, occurring in June of each year, features an…

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Fresno, California


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