Pierre Boulez (1925-2016)

From right, Pierre Boulez, Andrew Gerzso and Tod Machover at IRCAM, working on Répons

From right, Pierre Boulez, Andrew Gerzso and Tod Machover at IRCAM, working on Répons

From Tod Machover’s Facebook page:

Pierre Boulez – the great French composer, conductor and visionary (both imaginary and institutional) – died yesterday at the age of 90. Here is Paul Griffiths’ excellent obituary in The New York Times, which covers a great deal of Boulez’s career but does not mention his singular association with the LUCERNE FESTIVAL, which started in 2003 when he launched the Lucerne Festival Academy to give the best young music professionals an opportunity to create, perform and understand new music with an unparalleled mix of rigor and radicalism, the two qualities that Boulez always embodied. I was fortunate to work with Boulez at IRCAM when it started (1978-1985) and to work this past summer at the Lucerne Festival, participating in an amazing celebration of Boulez and his music on August 23, 2015. I’ll write more over the coming days, but just wanted to say without hesitation that Pierre Boulez marked the music and culture of our times as much as anyone – and perhaps more, considering his institution-building genius – and that we have lost a bold fighter for the seriousness and sophistication of music in a time when we have often forgotten how – or don’t have the time – to really listen.

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Listen up! Great recording of Symphony in D (video)

For your listening pleasure, here’s an excellent version of the “Symphony in D” recording. And here’s a new press release just out about the symphony and Tod Machover’s “Composer of the Year” award.

“Imagination is the strongest tool we have. The reason that we make music is of course to reach our audiences, but also to change the world, and nothing less than that is worth doing.” -Tod Machover

Symphony in D, the symphony written for and by the people of Detroit, premiered November 20 and 21 by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and was lauded by the press for its uniqueness of sound and for bringing vast numbers of people from all different communities together through music and technology. Anticipated by nearly every local publication and a great many nationally and internationally, the “love letter to Detroit” (Hyperallergic) was commissioned by the DSO and conducted by Leonard Slatkin, resulting in “big, amassing smorgasbords that invariably proved exhilarating” (Musical America) and “made Mahler’s Symphony of a Thousand look like a chamber piece” (Classical Voice North America). Read articles from TheNew York Times, BBC World Service, Associated Press, USA Today, andMusical America….

2016 Musical America honorees from left: Mark Padmore, Jennifer Koh, Gil Rose, Tod Machover and Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

Musical America 2015 honorees from left: Mark Padmore, Jennifer Koh, Gil Rose, Tod Machover and Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

Named 2016 Composer of the Year by Musical America, Tod Machover has captivated audiences worldwide with innovative musical technologies of his own invention and brilliant, passionate scores. Machover, alongside the other outstanding Musical America awardees, was honored at a ceremony at Carnegie Hall on December 8. Mark Swed, music critic at the Los Angeles Times, describes Machover as “the true futurist,” his work as “a vast network of musical neurons enthusiastically making connections between musical traditions, past and present, not normally joined,” in his feature article written for Musical America.

Musical America’s Composer of the Year

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Tod Machover was honored last night as Composer of the Year by Musical America in a ceremony at Carnegie Hall. In his article on Machover’s award, music critic Mark Swed wrote, “A true futurist understands the past and thinks about things to come, but the real work is to make the moment matter. At Lucerne, Machover presented a tribute to Boulez. Re-Structures for two pianos and electronics morphs from hardcore 1950s serialism into fresh, rhythmically driving, all-cylinders-firing, electronically enhanced Machover. The thrilling transition should be radical. In fact, the progress is so smoothly natural you hardly sense it as a transition at all, merely the past foretelling, as it should, what comes next.”

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BBC interview on Symphony in D


Here’s a 5-minute audio clip just released from the BBC World Service that presents the highlights from the full 12-minute interview about SYMPHONY IN D – recently premiered with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra – that was broadcast last weekend. Good way to hear a discussion about (and sounds from) the project without scrolling through a full BBC program…just click and listen here!

Symphony in D, the words

Words made powerful contributions to the “Symphony in D.” Notably, the fourth movement featured texts spoken by a variety of people representing Detroit including two vivid and memorable poems by Marsha Music and Tonya Matthews. For background essays and information about the world premiere performance, view the program here.

Marsha Music. Photo by Asia Rapai.

Photo by Asia Rapai.

Memories and Dreams

From the mire and murky loam,
bottom black with dusky soil
The First People walked this land
heard the river’s rush and roar
near the water Savoyard
there in battles took a stand
made the fateful crimson flow
near the strait called Le D’etroit Continue reading

Listen: World Premiere of Tod Machover’s ‘Symphony for Lucerne’

Screen Shot 2015-11-29 at 10.05.06 AMTod Machover’s SYMPHONY FOR LUCERNE was aired 10 days ago on WQXR radio in New York. You can hear it here (and also hear how very different it is from SYMPHONY IN D for Detroit), as well as listen to an excellent interview with Jeff Spurgeon where he and Tod discuss Lucerne, its symphony, alpenhorns, cowbells, Fasnacht and more.

Video: Symphony in D

World premiere performance on November 21, 2015, of Tod Machover’s Symphony in D. Performed by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra under conductor Leonard Slatkin.Made possible by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, with additional support from Opportunity Detroit.

Guest performers:

  • Marsha Music, poet and storyteller
  • Robert Billings, Eudora Gentry, Thomas Sertima, Marge Roberts, residents from American House Senior Living Communities
  • Sarai Figgs, Tommysha Mealy, Vakharia Twilley, and Janiya Tinsley, 3rd graders from Detroit Achievement Academy
  • Dr. Tonya Matthews a.k.a. “JaHipster,” President and CEO of Michigan Science Center
  • ADULT. feat. Nicola Kuperus and Adam Lee Miller (adultperiod.com)
  • St. Joseph Chaldean Choir
  • Bryan Pope, electric guitar
  • Jonathan Muir-Cotton, electric bass
  • Efe Bes, african drummer
  • Matthew Calbert, Khalik White, Taquiyyah Williams, and Laila Hamilton, beatmakers from YouthVille Detroit
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