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 (
  • 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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“Symphony in D” to be unveiled today

From Tod Machover’s Facebook page yesterday:

Wild and exciting dress rehearsal today for SYMPHONY IN D. It was powerful and exciting to have the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, electronics, and fabulous Detroit collaborators come together for the first time. The piece is many-layered and complex, but unfussy and straightforward at the same time – like Detroit, I think. Everyone on stage – young and old, seasoned virtuoso to school child to senior citizen – all contributed like heroes, as did everyone behind the scenes who have made this project possible…and I know that the performances over the next couple of days will be unforgettable. I feel so fortunate to have been able to work on this project in Detroit, a very great city full of amazing people. Now on to the premiere; we are ready!

Check out these recent press reports:

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Detroit Free Press on “Symphony in D”


Terrific article in today’s Detroit Free Press by Mark Stryker. On his Facebook page, Tod Machover comments: “Stryker paints the background for the project beautifully, and describes the paradoxical nature of this “ephemeral” work – that tries to capture this moment in Detroit’s history with a not-likely-to-repeat cast of characters – with the simultaneous goal of leaving something lasting and significant. We sure are trying to do both.”

Our favorite quote from the article:

“He had such an inclusive view of  the story he wanted to tell about Detroit,” said Marsha Music, a longtime writer on African-American music and culture in Detroit and a 2012 Kresge Fellow. She’ll be reading a poem during the symphony’s fourth movement, “Memories and Dreams.”

“Right off the bat, he wanted to include voices that had  historically not been heard, particularly in a classical milieu. I was so impressed with his desire to capture so many of the archive sounds of the city, this important ephemera, and merge them into a musical form. He had a true curiosity. He never gave off the feeling, ‘Oh, I got Detroit under my belt.’ “

Read the full article here.

Buy tickets to the DSO’s world premiere here.