The OOVE: A Brand New Instrument

Do you know what an OOVE is? We didn’t either. That is until we met with composer Nathaniel Stookey who told us about this brand new instrument that inspired his new piece called YTTE (Yield To Total Elation). The OOVE was made by a friend of his, Oliver DiCicco who has a workshop in San Francisco. Oliver specializes in kinetic sound sculptures that create a mixture of unique tones and vibrations. Lucky for us, we got to visit his local studio and see his other creations like these “Sirens” that create such an eerie sound but are so mesmerizing to watch.

(Click to PLAY the video and see for yourself!)

 Shortly after Nathaniel saw Oliver’s instruments, the San Francisco Symphony commissioned him to write a new piece for their SoundBox series (which I HIGHLY recommend). He immediately knew this was going to be something extraordinary.

The OOVE makes a low vibration sound which he used as the foundation of YTTE. The piece opens with a low hummmm and slowly an evolution of sound is created as the strings and the winds join in. Your mind is taken on a beautiful journey filled with emotion and movement throughout the entire piece. It’s calming and mysterious and then you suddenly feel like you’ve arrived into a grand galaxy that’s driven by brass, the bass drum, and pulses from the winds. Nathaniel said, “…for me, yielding to total elation during a piece of music is the ideal. It’s why I do what I do.”

To play the OOVE, the instrument is not bowed or plucked. In fact, it’s hardly ever touched! You approach it with an electromagnet. As the electromagnet gets closer to the field created by the nodes, it reacts by vibrating the strings. The vibrations get larger and larger the closer the node gets to the magnet while also creating additional layers of frequencies.

After hearing Nathaniel’s YTTE at the San Francisco Symphony’s groundbreaking Soundbox, Donato Cabrera and the Las Vegas Philharmonic commissioned a full orchestra version, which premiered earlier this year. If you didn’t get to see either of these amazing performances, you’re in luck! On September 24th YTTE for full orchestra is making its West Coast debut at California Symphony’s Season Opener.

Check out our exclusive interview with both Donato and Nathaniel about the OOVE, their road trip from San Francisco to Las Vegas and more about their story behind their West Coast Premiere… with a surprise at the end!! 

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You can purchase tickets to see this modern-day masterpiece by clicking HERE!
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5 Reasons Why SF Opera Lab Should be on Your Bucket List this Spring

Last year, the San Francisco Opera started a new series called SF Opera Lab. Why is it called “Lab”? Because the Taube Atrium Theater (in the Veterans building) was created to experiment and make new music in unique and innovative ways. If you went last year, you probably fell in love with its intimate setting, outstanding acoustics, new operatic works and cup holders for your favorite glass of wine or cocktail! This casual environment makes it fun for a newcomer and fresh for a regular opera-goer.


Recently I had the opportunity to take an exclusive tour of the venue with Sean Waugh, the Artistic Planning Manager who helps oversee this exciting new series. During our walk-through, I discovered hidden gems around the venue and got the inside scoop on the second season of concerts. Scroll below to see five reasons why you should put this unique experience on your Bucket List this spring.


1) The SF Opera Lab Stage is ever-changing. This theater is truly unique because the audience is placed in different configurations that are built around each experiential performance. One night there will be risers that will look down on the stage and the next there will be chairs (and even tables!) around a circular stage that’s placed in the middle of the room. No experience is the same!


2) This theater has historical landmarks at every turn. In 1935, SFMoma began its legacy in this great space where they housed the first west coast collection that was solely made up of modern and contemporary art. This room use to be SFMoma’s Sculpture Garden and if you look around the rim of the theater, you’ll see the original engravings of artists’ names in every corner. There are also other historical landmarks that are found around the building. Like the murals on the second floor that were brought from the Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915.


3) The four gray walls of the theater turn into vibrant projection screens. One of my favorite concerts last year was watching the Academy Award-nominated film, Les Triplets de Belleville. The music was stripped away and a live ensemble (with singers!) performed along to the animations that were projected in front of us. These visual highlights bring movement to every piece and the audience is taken on a musical journey through color and an array of settings.



4) An archives gallery surrounds the theater. On the outside walls of the venue there is a photo gallery of San Francisco Opera’s most memorable moments. My favorite is a snapshot of their first performance that dates back to 1923. In October I had the honor of touring this gallery with Christopher Verdosci who worked with the company for fifteen years as their Assistant Costume Director. Click here to see more!



5) This experience even pops up outside of the theater and around the city! The SF Opera Lab Pop-Ups happen in places (AKA: bars and clubs) where you would never expect to see opera. Last year they held performances at Public Works SF, The Chapel, and even Oasis! From incredible arias to duets and love songs, these casually dressed performers sang passionately with one hand while holding a cocktail in the other. Click here to read more.

The SF Opera Lab series is made up of 4 different concerts and will run from February 24 – April 27th. Personally, I’m excited for the ChamberWorks Concert that will feature the musicians of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and The Source that is supposed to be very interactive and set in a unique arrangement for the audience.

Other Fun Facts:

  • Ticket prices start at $25!
  • The incredible Meyer Sound Constellation is run by a simple iPad
  • The first concert of the season, The Source is about Wikileaks and what Channing Manning exposed in 2010
  • There are 299 seats in the standard set-up, making every seat a GOOD seat
  • The next SF Opera Lab Pop-Up will be announced very soon…
  • The Taube Atrium Theater is located on the fourth floor of the Veteran’s Building
  • Roomful of Teeth is a West Coast premiere of four new works based on Shakespeare


I hope to see you at one of the concerts! Make sure to follow my adventures on Instagram and like my blog to receive updates about new posts.