Garbage in shopping cart

While participating in an artist-in-residence program sponsored by San Francisco waste management company Recology, Nathaniel Stookey composed Junkestra, a symphony played entirely with instruments made from objects scavenged at the San Francisco Dump.

To find just the right junk, Stookey headed onto city trash piles wearing a helmet and steel-shank boots, returning to his studio later in the day pushing a shopping cart full of detritus.

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Photo by: Flickr/Recology San Francisco, Art at the Dump / Caption by:

Sponge Bob's symphony debut

Sponge Bob flip-flops--not typical sights at San Francisco's Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall--will take their place onstage there on May 9. The shoes are used to play the "Godzillaphone."

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Godzillaphone meets shower parts

Shower innards anchor the Godzillaphone, one of about 30 percussive instruments that make up Junkestra.

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Pipes attached to foam

A variety of pipes attached to packaging foam contribute to the orchestral whole. Together, Stookey said, the instruments produce "a richer palette of timbre and pitch than anything I could have foreseen or designed."

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Garbage can, tennis ball

Some Junkestra instruments--like this garbage can drum and tennis-ball mallet--have a more explicitly trashy look than others. But despite their origins, the instruments won't be going back to the dump, according to Stookey. "They're definitely instruments now," he says. "They are precious to me."

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Old bicycle tire

In the world of Junkestra, one person's old bicycle wheel is another person's percussive instrument. The dots show the musician which spokes to hit.

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Deck railing marimba

This marimba made from salvaged deck railings is played with a variety of mallets. Junkestra, a 12-minute piece in three movements, is always performed with the same assemblage of instruments.

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Metal trays, clothing racks

Metal trays tied to clothing racks add to the harmonies of Junkestra, which will be performed at San Francisco's premier classical music venue on May 9.

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Sewer line pipes

Sonorous sewer line pipes compose another Junkestra instrument. "Every element of Junkestra has a pitch," Stookey says. As with traditional instruments, the pitch can change over time, requiring tuning by way of a hammer or other tool.

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Goblets tied to cabinet

Silver goblets taped to the floor of a salvaged cabinet. As unusual as the Junkestra instruments may be, "it's an orchestra piece just like orchestra pieces I write for oboes and violas and trombones," Stookey says. "The way I approach it is just like I approach a symphony orchestra."

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