duration: 6min  30sec
instrumentation: 2 (pic)-2-2-2/4-3-3-1/timp, 3 perc, hp/str
premiere: Virginia Symphony; Joann Falletta, conductor, Norfolk, Virginia on 01/30/1999
commissioned: Robert and Elizabeth Shepley


A tribute to explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau and his life-long mission to preserve the oceans, Aqua unfolds in ten variations, offering an ever-transforming journey through the seas. Passages range from “Sea Horse Dances” to “Sea Dirge: Becoming Ocean.”

Percussionists play an unusual mix of instruments: driftwood, coral, stones, nautical bells, steel
pipes and plastic six-pack rings. Heitzeg calls Aqua “a protest against the destruction of the oceans and a celebration of their unfathomable beauty.”

“Full of arresting percussive sounds that helped conjure a sweeping, if at times sad, portrait of our seas.” – The Virginian-Pilot

Photograph: Jacques-Yves Cousteau, 1987. © The Cousteau Society. All Rights Reserved.

Aqua has also had the distinction of being the answer to a “Final Jeopardy” question read by the late Alex Trebek.