The Global TV documentary on A Toronto Symphony aired last week. It shows many pivotal behind-the-scenes moments in the creation of the piece. We hear Tod is working on a video compilation that will include more music. In the meantime, you can watch this documentary by clicking here. (Correction: We have replaced the incorrect link in our original post with the correct link).
Tag Archives: music
Woo hoo! “A Toronto Symphony” is finished!! Here’s the first page of the score. Tod worked non-stop orchestrating it over the past month, with a major push in the middle of the weekend blizzard to assemble the complete score. He received invaluable help from a hardy band of Media Lab students and producers who trekked through thigh-deep snow to get down the unplowed driveway and out to the barn. The score was sent it off to conductor Peter Oundjian last night, and Tod will fly to Toronto on Thursday to go over everything with the orchestra. There’s still a huge amount of work to get the piece ready for its premiere on March 9th. Reserve your tickets here!
Tod Machover visited Toronto last Friday to check in on the school kids who have been working on their musical contributions to the “A Toronto Symphony” project all fall. The visit is described in this terrific Musical Toronto post by John Terauds. Here are some cool photos and comments posted by Tod on his Facebook page. Click on images to enlarge.
From Tod Machover -
Just read the news that Elliott Carter passed away today, a month short of his 104th birthday. What a big loss, what an inspiring life. I was lucky enough to study with Elliott at Juilliard and have always considered him my mentor. He remained imaginative, brilliant, searching and expanding to the very end, something to always aspire to. Beautiful obituary by Anne Midgette in the Washington Post.
I wrote this text about Elliott Carter for a Nonesuch Records retrospective CD box set a few years ago: “White-hot imagination – profound yet playful, free-flowing yet disciplined – is perhaps what I admire most about Elliott Carter. In fact, when I was studying with Elliott at Juilliard in the mid-70s, contact with his unbounded creativity was initially disorienting but ultimately the most inspiring and lasting mentorship that I received. I had been used to more traditional composition teachers who established clear stylistic and theoretical boundaries, and who carefully monitored my compositional progress from week to week and work to work. Not so with Elliott. During each lesson he’d look at whatever growing piece I brought in as if it were a sketch of his own, never passing judgment, but rather inventing on the spot multiple ways of approaching each musical moment, measure, or movement. The ideas would come fast and furious, a color here, a harmony there, a more effective transition, a more convincing conclusion. For several months, I was bewildered about what to do with this information. Which ideas, if any, to retain? What continuity held these comments together? But gradually I started quizzing Elliott about underlying principles in his music, especially concerning direction in non-traditional harmony and the careful balance of complex textures. In doing so, I came to appreciate Elliott’s way of thinking, grounded in deep instincts rather than easily described systems. To me, it is the courage to follow such unspoken principles that has allowed Carter to invent uniquely fresh – never prepackaged – solutions for each musical situation, and that makes his musical mind the most brilliant of our time.”
Tod’s weekend in Toronto. Photos from Tod Machover’s Facebook. Click on image to see full size.
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 -
Composer Tod Machover swung through Edinburgh this past weekend to meet with Festival organizers. Looks like he also found time to explore the city. Here are some photos from Tod’s Facebook album, with his comments! Click on the photos to enlarge.
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
Tod’s current project, “A Toronto Symphony”, is about active, mindful listening to the world around us, in this case the city of Toronto. The composer asks the inhabitants to focus on the sounds that evoke strong feelings, images and memories about their city and their lives, raw sounds that he will transform into music. As an example, Tod turns to his 2008 opera “Skellig”, based on David Almond’s beloved modern classic. About “Skellig”, Tod writes that it is
…an opera about the relationship between the natural world that surrounds us, our everyday perception, and the heightened perception – and action – that comes when we pay close attention – and listen - to what is really there. Hence the opera combines recorded sounds as well as transitions that find the music in those sounds via voices (a young people’s chorus) and instruments (a chamber orchestra).
Here are some examples: Continue reading
The “A Toronto Symphony” project is receiving some nice media attention! The CBC’s popular morning radio program, Metro Morning, aired an interview with composer and project mastermind Tod Machover on the morning of June 14. Click here to listen.
A preliminary experiment with some TSO musicians has already yielded unexpected results. Machover sent the eight musicians some chords and they responded with their own musical ideas. “Honestly I can tell you I didn’t expect the kind of craziness, I didn’t expect it to be as inventive,” said Machover. “Once I got the material I had to kind of change what I was going to do, so I really hope that I’m surprised a lot.” The resulting composition, performed at the official launch at the ideacity conference, built from a scattered, wandering mélange of textures into a series of playful melodies and phases with each instrument taking brief solos. It’s an unexpected, yet pleasing tune that evokes the diverse bustle of a metropolis.
And here’s a terrific, thoughtful blog post by John Terauds for Musical Toronto. We love this quote:
Machover’s Ideacity audience had a chance to hear the results, which may or may not be part of the much, much larger finished work. But along the way, the composer was able to prove to himself, as well as key witnesses, that weaving other people’s ideas into a meaningful whole is possible.
Do you have questions or want to learn how to participate? Visit the A Toronto Symphony blog to get involved!