PBS Newshour featured the Opera of the Future group tonight. If you missed the broadcast, you can watch it here: Singing robots reflect tech’s humanity in opera of the future
The current issue of the Juilliard Journal is devoted to “Technology and the Arts,” a bold, good move for this bastion of traditional classical music! The issue includes an interesting interview with Tod Machover. Tod discusses how he first became intrigued by computers when he was studying composition at Juilliard, how he arrived at IRCAM and the MIT Media Lab, and some of his ideas for the future of music.
Read the full interview here.
Tod Machover (B.M. ’73, M.M. ’75, composition) is one of the world’s pre-eminent practitioners of and spokesmen for the intersections of music and technology. But the first time he wanted to learn to program a computer was soon after he arrived at Juilliard, to study with Elliott Carter (faculty 1966-84). “One of the reasons I was interested in studying with Carter was that I was really interested in complexity in my music,” says Machover, who recalls writing a string trio in which each instrument was slowing down or speeding up independent of the others. It was so complicated that he couldn’t convince anyone to play it, and “a sort of lightbulb went off,” he said, adding that he thought “computers are out there, and if you have an idea and can learn how to program, you should be able to model it.”
Very interesting interview in Theater Jones with Keith Cerny, the innovative General Director and CEO of The Dallas Opera, about bringing DEATH AND THE POWERS there next month, including the interactive simulcast that will reach 10 other cities. In the interview, Cerny discusses the challenge new operas face in reaching broad audiences. He describes how the Dallas Opera’s Simulcast of its production of “Death and the Powers” will chart a new path through innovative technology developed at the M.I.T. Media Lab to engage audiences.
Will you be attending one of the Simulcasts? Let us know!
Read the full interview here.
This interview with Tod Machover by Peter Stenshoe has been transcribed and edited by Frank C. Bertrand and published recently on Scribd. There’s a wealth of wonderful information here about a series of eerie coincidences in the genesis of VALIS. Tod speaks about why Philip K. Dick’s most personal novel resonated so deeply with him:
I think he is probably one of the most visionary authors that’s been around in the last fifty years or so. The part of his message I think that resonated most with me, and I think is very important, is one I think he struggles with in Valis and all those books at the end of his life, is how is it possible to keep some sense of hope when the world and most of our personal situations are in such an extreme state of pain. And the particular situation that I think he describes in Valis, I mean to me it’s what the whole pink light experience and his reaction to it means, is we live in a world that is becoming in fact more and more fragmented, more and more complex…And I think the pink light is realizing how deep the fragmentation is. I think that what Dick’s whole life work represents is the courage to keep looking for how things stick together. And I do believe that that is the task of our times and will be for the future, to not give up that search….
You can read the full interview here.
VALIS, the opera, is available here.
From genConnect, here’s an interview recorded this past June during the Aspen Ideas Festival. In the interview, composer Tod Machover of the MIT Media Lab describes how he invited the citizens of Toronto to compose “A Toronto Symphony,” which was performed by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in the spring of 2013. The collaboration produced a portrait of Toronto that Machover hopes to replicate in other cities.
Here’s an insightful article about Tod Machover in the October issue of Opera News. Written by Philip Kennicott, Pulitzer prize-winning critic for the Washington Post, the article delves into the evolution of the music and gets to the heart of what the operas are about. Refreshing!
Some great quotes:
“…Machover, voluble and friendly in person, confounds expectations. Valis, based on a science-fiction novel by Philip K. Dick and dubbed “the first opera of the twenty-first century,” now sounds anything but scary, and his last three operas, Resurrection, Skellig and Death and the Powers, have rare emotional depth. Machover, now a fully mature composer, is unafraid of harnessing the old-fashioned powers of opera, unafraid of sentimentality, unafraid of C major.”
The MIT Media Lab has posted a terrific interview with Tod Machover and pianist Tae Kim that takes us deeper inside the collaborative process of creating “Festival City”. In the interview, Tod also speaks about how the experience is changing him:
For Festival City, I have taken a big risk by opening up the compositional process to the public and inviting the submission of material as well as the shaping of the composition to be shared. Besides the obvious reasons to do this–to establish a new kind of dialogue between artist and audience, and to open up the usually closed “black box” of the composition process so that all can peer inside–I am also excited by the potential of hearing new sounds and thinking differently about composing than I would if I had worked on this 100% in my barn-studio outside of Boston. So this is one element of the composition that will take me–and hopefully everyone–to some new musical territories.
Read the full interview here: Repertoire Remix: Q&A with Tod Machover and Tae Kim
From Tod Machover’s Facebook:
Just did a live interview on BBC Scotland for my FESTIVAL CITY project for the Edinburgh International Festival. We talked about the idea of collecting sounds of the city, mixing those with music, and the hosts had even made their own collage of Edinburgh sounds for me to listen to. You can participate in the project at www.eif.co.uk/festivalcity or follow our blog at edinburgh.media.mit.edu.
Listen to the interview here.
From Tod Machover’s Facebook page:
Did a fun live interview today on BBC Radio Scotland about my new Edinburgh “Festival City” collaborative symphony project. It was for a brand new show – The Culture Studio with Janice Forsyth – that premiered…today! My segment starts at 1:34:00 and runs to the end of the show http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01rlrmh. There is also a fantastic interview with David Hendy (at 1:21:00), a UK media historian, who talks about the role of noise in human history (and even plays a soundscape from an imagined early 19th century Edinburgh. Plus a superb interview with Annie Lennox (at 0:04:21). Enjoy the lot of it!!
Listen to The Culture Studio with Janice Forsyth here, with guests Annie Lennox, Kristin Scott Thomas, David Hendy and Tod Machover.
Check out this wonderful interview with David Almond on the BBC’s Desert Island Discs series. David discusses children’s literature and the music he’d want if he were a castaway. Thirty minutes into the interview he talks about the opera version of Skellig, on which he collaborated with composer Tod Machover. Here’s what BBC program says about David:
Most of his work is for children but the adults who populate the juries of heavyweight literary prizes really like it too. The accolades began with his first novel Skellig published in 1998 when he was 47; it won the mighty “Whitbread Children’s” award and then many others besides.
Ever since, he’s been acclaimed for his ability to craft complex, philosophical narratives with strikingly down to earth characterisations.
Listen to the interview here: BBC Desert Island Discs with author David Almond.