The fabulous Boston-based vocal ensemble Blue Heron, conducted by Scott Metcalfe, was at MIT yesterday recording more material for our VOCAL VIBRATIONS project that opens in Paris on March 27th. Stay tuned for more information, and get a glimpse at http://www.lelaboratoire.org/en/agenda-coming-soon.php.
Updated March 8, 2014
Tod Machover’s newest collaborative symphony received its world premiere last Saturday evening at the finale of the 2014 Perth International Festival. Tod writes on his Facebook wall: “Symphony for Perth premiere went just great: large crowd with lots of young people, brilliant conducting by Carolyn Kuan, wonderful performance by WASO, lovely visuals by Peter Torpey of the MIT Media Lab, and a super-warm reception from the audience.”
CutCommon, a blog for “the new generation of classical music,” offers this insightful review. We love this quote: “Machover bring an outsider’s perspective to Perth, and as such is able to highlight the elements of our soundscape that excite him as a visitor. Machover’s vision is crafted with enough care and consideration that it rises above the superficial. Sounds are chosen not just for their meaning but also for their sonic and musical properties. In one glorious section of the first movement, a recording of speech delivered in the distinctive ‘softened ocker’ accent of West Australia blends beautifully with Machover’s orchestral composition, so that only the sharper, ‘bluer’ words gravitate to the audience’s attention. It is this wonderful division of sonic importance that defines the symphony.”
Here’s another interesting review: Western Australian: Composer distils unanswered questions: ”It succeeds because Machover is not only an imaginative composer; he is also an empathic collaborator and dreamer who is able to perceive that the process, in the growth of a city as much as the growth of an individual, is as important as the end result.”
The Western Australia Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Carolyn Kuan was hard at work this morning polishing up Tod Machover’s brand-new “Symphony for Perth,” which premieres tonight at the finale of the 2014 Perth Festival. The much-anticipated work was featured in an extensive article published in today’s The Australian:
The ears of an outsider, particularly ones as attuned as Machover’s, can yield new interpretations of the familiar. One of the things that impressed him about Perth was a musical culture that was open to possibilities. “Perth is an interesting city where different groups of people intersect: an indie musician, an Aboriginal musician, a young person discovering music for the first time, someone playing the violin … There are so few preconceptions about the way things have to fit together.’’…
“I think that the ability to listen to the world, to hear the beauty, complexity and subtlety of what is already around us, will make each of our lives richer,’’ Machover says. “It is the way we can connect our imaginations with the outside world and communicate our deepest desires and dreams with others. I am trying to make a step in this direction with the process and the result of projects like a Symphony for Perth.’’
Read the full article: Tod Machover’s symphony for Perth pits man versus machine
Vocal Vibrations. Le Laboratoire, Paris. Opens March 28. Free.
From the people who brought you inhalable chocolate, here comes a high-tech singalong. Visitors start in a chamber filled with ethereal music by the composer Tod Machover. When they wander into a private “cocoon” designed by Neri Oxman, they can sing while an electronic necklace measures vibrations in the larynx, getting instant feedback as the sonic aura adapts to the visitor’s voice and a grapefruit-size “orb” vibrates in the hands. The installation will feed into a larger investigation on the healing power of the human voice. When it travels to Cambridge, Mass., in the fall, a cartilage expert will ask whether skilled humming might improve the health of joints, a neuroscientist will try to match up vocal performance and brain measurements, and a Tibetan monk will attempt to engineer a better method of chanting.
There is a fun piece in The Guardian today about Tod’s upcoming symphony orchestra piece for Perth: Flies, crows and crashing waves: the sounds that define Perth:
Tod Machover is creating a symphony for Perth. Or, more precisely, a symphony with Perth. Between a Desert and the Deep Blue Sea, which will premiere on March 1, will be created from sounds recorded by Machover and Perth residents in and around the city, in the same manner as city-made symphonies in Edinburgh and Toronto. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor and his band of researchers have been collecting sounds and encouraging citizens to manipulate them via special apps, in preparation for a performance with the Western Australian Symphony Orchestra. It’s truly collaborative music – and hugely exciting.
Check out the full article for the audio and evocative photography by Tanya Voltchanskaya.
And here is more coverage of the Perth Festival.
Congratulations to the cast, crew and incredible team that pulled off last night’s flawless opening night performance of the Dallas Opera’s production of “Death and the Powers”!! Much relief all around that the Operabots, moving walls and chandelier were all in splendid working order after three years in the warehouse.
Reviews are coming in! The Dallas Morning News’s morning-after review noted that the singers “get lines of remarkable naturalness, from speech-song to genuinely beautiful arias, duets and ensembles,” and said “it’s hard to imagine a finer performance, staged by Andrew Eggert and musically coordinated by conductor Nicole Paiement, with choreography by Karole Armitage. Both seen and video-processed, Robert Orth is a tour de force as Simon, his sinewy baritone faltering only in some low-ranging patches. Joélle Harvey and Patricia Risley sing radiantly as, respectively, Miranda and Evvy.” Continue reading
Excellent PBS Newshour interviews with Dallas Opera general director and CEO Keith Cerny, Death and the Powers team members Ben Bloomberg and Peter Torpey, and composer Tod Machover. Cerny talks about why he wanted to bring “Death and the Powers” to the Winspear Opera House and produce the global simulcast.
Read the article and watch the video interviews: “Sci-fi opera ‘Death and the Powers’ is doing things differently … with robots.”