An Alberni Valley-based underwater videographer has paired footage of the depths of Barkley Sound with a Pulitzer Prize-winning musical score.
Peter Mieras of Rendezvous Dive Adventures was invited earlier this year to create a video to play as the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra performed ‘Become Ocean’, by John Luther Adams.
The idea began in 2013 when Mieras heard of the composition. “I researched it,” he said. He contacted Adams and said “wouldn’t it be amazing to have a large screen ocean-related video in the background while the orchestra is playing live,” Mieras said.
He had to contact the company that owned the playing rights for the composition. He put together a five-minute demo video using a recording from the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, the company liked it, but it didn’t go anywhere.
In 2018, Mieras heard an interview on CBC about Vancouver Symphony Orchestra’s performance of ‘Become Ocean’ as part of its 100-year series. He was able to connect with them about putting a video together—but they only gave him four days to compile the video and send it.
Mieras was invited to introduce the video at the Vancouver Symphony’s performance last January, and also sat in on a panel discussion before the performance.
“It was an amazing experience,” he said. “It was an absolutely unforgettable evening.”
The footage featured in Become Ocean includes Barkley Sound, other Pacific Northwest sites as well as footage Mieras captured in Mexico, and some from other underwater videographers. “I’d say 90 percent of the footage is mine, and I’d say 80 percent of that is in B.C.”
Mieras says he wanted to pair this musical score to underwater video for a number of reasons: it has a strong relationship to the ocean, and to author John Luther Adams’ concern for the ocean. There was another symbiotic tone to the project: “When I wrote out the music on a large piece of paper…I got a perfect wave pattern,” Mieras said. “You actually feel the music. It’s like it vibrates in your body.”
It also had the opportunity to be an educational moment.
“When you dive, you have an atmosphere that you aren’t used to; there’s strange views, strange sounds. Jacques Cousteau famously said people protect what they love. But to love something, you need to understand it, you need to get to know it.
“I thought this was a perfect opportunity for people who aren’t divers, who have no affinity to the ocean, who don’t know what’s down there—it was a perfect opportunity for me to help them understand a little bit what is threatened.
“It also underlines the importance of the ocean for the survival of this planet. Without the oceans we wouldn’t be here.
“Given the reaction of the public afterwards, it certainly hit a note.”
Because the symphony performance was live, it is not available for viewing on Mieras’ YouTube channel.
Once he finished the film and made his way to Vancouver to introduce it, Mieras was already onto the next project.
“Because of where I live I’ve got a lot of weird and wonderful stuff (underwater),” he said. “People are asking for my footage.”
He loves diving, and he loves the challenge of shooting video underwater too.
To learn more about dive charters, go online to www.rendezvousdiving.com. To watch some of Mieras’ videos, check out his YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/rendezvousdiving or www.subvisionproductions.com.