Richard Tognetti’s surfing score

ACO artistic director Richard Tognetti combined his love of music and surfing in creating the score for Storm Surfers 3D. Picture: EDWARD SLOANEThe sound of surf is music to Richard Tognetti’s ears.

Most would recognise Tognetti as the Wollongong-bred violinist, conductor, composer and Australian Chamber Orchestra (ACO) artistic director, but inside the artistic genius also lies a passionate surfer.

‘‘Surfing is incomparable to anything else on the planet,’’ Tognetti says.

The latest project in which Tognetti combines his passions for music and surfing is the Storm Surfers 3D movie, for which he and Michael Yezerski composed the music score.

It’s not the first time Tognetti, who is recognised as a National Living Treasure, has been involved in writing music linked to surfing.

The 2008 film Musica Surfica was Tognetti’s first exploration of the connection between the ocean, surfing and music, and it won awards in the United States, Brazil, South Africa and France.

Then there is The Glide, in which ocean photography and footage by Jon Frank is matched with the ACO’s live performance.

The ocean theme emerges again in The Reef, for which a group of surfers, musicians, and a camera crew travelled the rugged surf coast of Western Australia creating music and shooting footage for a multimedia concert.

But back to Storm Surfers 3D, which started screening across Australia earlier this month.

Two-time world surfing champion Tom Carroll and big wave pioneer Ross Clarke-Jones, with the help of a surf-forecasting guru who tracks giant oceanic storms, journey the seas to hunt down and ride the biggest and most dangerous waves in Australia.

Shipsterns Bluff, off Tasmania, and Turtle Dove Shoal, off Western Australia, are some of the locations that are featured in this spectacular documentary.

Tognetti says the soundtrack of electric violin, drawing on elements of rock music, was used to match the intensity of the surfing.

‘‘What we were trying to get out was the drama and the vast, overwhelming landscape of the open ocean swell,’’ Tognetti says.

‘‘Most surf films are close-ups of surfers doing tricks on well-known waves whereas with this you’re getting into the psychology of surfing.

‘‘It’s about the search [for waves] and then when everything falls into place – the elation. It’s the elation and the deflation, the search and the horror [Carroll survived two ‘‘hideous wipe-outs].’’

Tognetti, whose credits include the soundtrack to Master and Commander, developed his passion for surfing in Wollongong and he lists his favourite spots as Windang Island and Sandon Point.

‘‘The northern point breaks of Wollongong are the best,’’ he says.

Surfing, for Tognetti, is about the connection with the environment, as well as the challenge of taking on the conditions.

‘‘For me, it’s like an investigation, I’ve always had to pick up rocks and see what’s underneath.’’

Storm Surfers 3D screens at Greater Union Wollongong today and Greater Union Shellharbour tomorrow.

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