A hush fell over the crowd. The conductor raised his arms and the orchestra began to play...not flutes and violins, but serving trays, garbage cans, pieces of pipe, and other materials gathered from the San Francisco dump. The composer of the eclectic, but engaging score, Nathaniel Stookey, had created the instruments (pictured) and written the three-movement piece during his stint at the Norcal Artist In Residence Program, which has given more than 50 artists over 17 years free reign over the city's discards as source material for amazing sculpture, clothing, and other artworks.
Stookey's "Junkestra" played to a large and enthusiastic audience Friday night at the storied Herbst Theatre in San Francisco, preceded by short films made by other resident artists and co-hosted by program coordinator Deborah Munk in a runway-worthy gown made from the plastic bags that newspapers get delivered in. (Seriously, it was gorgeous.) The wine served at intermission was from a local vineyard that participates in a Norcal program to turn food scraps from San Francisco restaurants into compost for growing grapes. Missed out? There's no more free wine, but photos and video of an earlier Junkestra performance are available online, along with audio tracks from a rehearsal.