Tod Machover will be back in Toronto on Thursday, May 9, to give a talk at the Jackman Humanities Institute of the University of Toronto at 5pm. He will be speaking about A TORONTO SYMPHONY, related projects, and the future (!). If you’re in town that day, go and check it out!
Category Archives: Tod Machover
MIT Media Lab professor and composer Tod Machover will be delivering a public lecture on Saturday, April 27th, at the American Philosophical Society’s meeting in Philadelphia. Scheduled for the morning session, chaired by Linda Greenhouse, the talk is titled “Democratic Excellence: New Models of Musical Collaboration.” For the full program, click here.
Remaining true to the American Philosophical Society’s founder Benjamin Franklin’s intention of “promoting useful knowledge,” the papers and symposia at the meeting are “diverse in content and address both the theoretical and practical in the sciences, social sciences and humanities. …This eclectic mix produces a spirited dialogue among the participants, often without regard to academic discipline or professional affiliation. Informal discussions continue at meals.”
Society Meetings are open to the public and attract participants from the academic communities as well as the professions. Seating is limited and preregistration is required. Inquiries regarding attendance should be directed firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tod Machover’s keynote lecture from the annual Chamber Music America Conference (January 18, 2013) has just been posted online. Among other things, he discusses chamber music as an ideal context to imagine and create a subtle, intimate, human-scaled future for technology, in the arts and beyond.
The official blog for Tod Machover’s newest project, “Festival City”, has just been launched. Please visit and sign up for updates! “Festival City” is an orchestral work commissioned by the 2013 Edinburgh International Festival. It will receive its world premiere on August 27, 2013, by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.
As the Opera of the Future team heads into the final stretch of its ambitious Toronto Symphony project, it has released a brand-new web application called Media Scores. The system enables anyone to mold sections of composer Tod Machover’s music like pieces of sonic clay, save their work, and share them with other users, including Machover. It’s all part of an experiment to stretch the boundaries of collaboration between artist and the public.
The first Media Scores activity was just released yesterday. According to the A Toronto Symphony website, it “will allow you to help complete the Finale section (“Toronto Dances”) of the piece, contribute to the accompaniment “texture” of the work’s virtuosic “City Soaring” movement, and experiment with other sections of the composition to build your own unique blend and personalized musical narrative.”
In this CBC News feature, Tod explains his motivation for turning what could have been a straightforward orchestra commission into a high-wire act involving entirely novel technology and attempts to engage a diverse swath of Toronto’s citizens in helping him create the piece:
A music-maker long interested in technology and audience participation, Machover has more recently been fascinated at how his teen daughter’s generation is taking popular songs and morphing them — for instance through cover versions posted online.
That said, “it’s pretty unlikely that [a Lady Gaga YouTube cover his daughter makes with her friends] will change Lady Gaga’s next song,” he admitted.
The interactive Toronto Symphony project is his attempt to turn that involvement into true, two-way communication…
What he’s grappling with now is not just creating an abstract piece of music, but developing something that affects people emotionally, “involves being aware, literally and metaphorically, of what your city sounds like” and “doing justice to the richness of what’s coming in.”
Check out this video in which Tod explains how Media Scores works. Then go and try it out!
Music and media are two worlds that are evolving technologically at a head-spinning pace today. How is technology helping or hindering? How has technology itself become the subject for musical and media investigation? And if you want to get really meta, how is technology altering the very profession of being a media commentator about the impact of technology on music and media?
These are the fun and weighty topics that will be unpackaged this Thursday and Friday at the University of Missouri’s “Music and New Media at the Crossroads,”a festival presented jointly by the School of Music and School of Journalism. Tod Machover will deliver the keynote and join cellist Matt Haimovitz in a panel discussion. “Music critics Tim Page (editor of the definitive volume of Glenn Gould’s writings) and Greg Sandow (Juilliard professor and inveterate blogger) will also be there, so it should be a fun event,” says Tod.
Matt will perform a concert Thursday evening that includes works by Tod (“Dadaji in Paradise”, “Vinyl Cello” and “Flora”). The Grammy-winning quartet, eighth blackbird, will give a concert on Friday night.
An article about the festival in the Columbia Daily Tribune opines:
Wherever one is situated on the digital spectrum, this is a dialogue that musicians — and music lovers — cannot ignore or write off as a distraction. The integration of new technologies has always been a necessary consideration for musicians, even at the level of learning how to play and write for newly fashioned instruments, said Jonathan Kuuskoski, director of entrepreneurship and community programs at the School of Music. He pointed to Bach’s initial rejection of the fortepiano as an example of great artists wrestling with changing norms.
“It’s always been part of the discussion, so to think that stops or to take a stance and say new media is not part of this would probably be a mistake,” he said.
Read the full article here: MU festival explores ties between music, new media
Tod returns by popular demand to speak with opera lovers at the Dallas Opera on September 18. He’s joined by Sara Heaton, who performed in “Death and the Powers” in the role of Miranda. Here they are in “Composing Conversations”:
Reposted from A Toronto Symphony
This weekend, Tod will join 50 other presenters (from Robert Wilson to Atom Egoyan to Lang Lang!) at the University of Toronto’s Convocation Hall for an extraordinary gathering of “Dreamers Renegades Visionaries” to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the iconoclastic pianist and boundary breaker’s birth. Check out this terrific article about the event in Whole Note (“Spinning Gould – 30 years after”).
Tod is scheduled to speak and perform at 5pm on Saturday, the 22nd. He posted this photo on Facebook this morning and gave a hint about what he’ll be presenting:
Here is my cello resting this morning in our barn outside of Boston, preparing to travel to Toronto tomorrow for the big Gould event. I’ll be playing the solo cello (something I don’t do often these days, but am happy to do to pay homage to Gould) to “shed a light” on – and make connections between – shards of music hidden in hundreds of sound images sent from Toronto as part of my A Toronto Symphony project …I promise it will be unusual:)
Listen to this teaser from Tod’s montage of sounds of Toronto -
Listening to the brief excerpts from Skellig the other day brought back a deluge of memories about its wonderful run at the Sage Gateshead in 2008. Few people have heard the opera because it has not yet been recorded. We thought you might enjoy this glimpse from the first act. Matthew Long sings the role of Michael, and Merrin Layzan is Mina. The orchestra is the Northern Sinfonia under the baton of Garry Walker.
He was filthy and pale and dried out and I thought he was dead. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I’d soon begin to see the truth about him, that there’d never been another creature like him in the world.
Michael and his family have moved house. It was going to be wonderful. They were due to arrive in time for the spring. But everything’s dark, the place is a wreck, the garden’s a wilderness. And now Michael’s sister is dangerously ill, his parents are frantic and Doctor Death has come to call. Michael feels helpless.
Then he steps into the crumbling garage…
What is this thing beneath the spiders’ webs and dead flies?
A human being, or a strange kind of beast never seen before?
The only person Michael can confide in is Mina. Together, they bring the creature into the light, and Michael’s world changes forever…
Music by Tod Machover
Libretto by David Almond
SCENE 6. THE SWEETEST NOISE Continue reading
In mid-June, Tod officially launched his project with the Toronto Symphony at the ideacity 2012 conference. On the project blog, Tod explains the ideas behind his “launch music”:
To officially launch our A Toronto Symphony collaboration, I created a series of chords last month to serve as a kind of “genetic” code for the project, and also to serve as material that we could share back-and-forth to modify and to make new things. Chord progressions are great because they are both simple – a kind of musical backbone or skeleton – yet complex enough to truly tell a story. Just think of the chords in a classic piece by The Beatles like “Michelle”, or the way Bach squeezes a universe of expression out of his seemingly simple 4-part Chorales. Continue reading