Composer Tod Machover addressed the class of 2016 at the Bienen School of Music convocation June 18. Recently named 2016 Composer of the Year by Musical America, Machover has been called “America’s most wired composer” by The Los Angeles Times and a “musical visionary” by The New York Times. He is widely recognized as one of the most innovative and influential composers of our time and is also celebrated for inventing new technologies for music. Trained as a cellist, he studied composition with Elliott Carter and Roger Sessions at The Juilliard School and was the first Director of Musical Research at Pierre Boulez’s IRCAM in Paris. Machover is the Muriel R. Cooper Professor of Music and Media at the MIT Media Lab where he also directs the Opera of the Future Group. Since 2006, Machover has been visiting professor of composition at the Royal Academy of Music in London.
The music world has been abuzz with news about Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s appointment as music director of the Metropolitan Opera. He will succeed James Levine, who has served in that role for four decades. Simultaneously, the 41-year-old Québécois conductor has also renewed his contract as music director for the Philadelphia Orchestra. In its press release, the Philadelphia Orchestra mentioned that “a commission by Tod Machover, featuring different “voices” from the community, is planned within the next few seasons.” Nézet-Séguin and Machover met each other last December when both were honored by Musical America (as Artist of the Year and Composer of the Year, respectively). Stay tuned!
Tod Machover will be speaking on “Hyperinstruments, Robotic Operas, and City Symphonies” this Sunday, May 22, at Moogfest 2016. According to the festival’s website, “Moogfest is a tribute to Dr. Robert Moog and the profound influence his inventions have had on how we hear the world. Over the last sixty years, Bob Moog and Moog Music have pioneered the analog synthesizer and other technology tools for artists. This exchange between engineer and musician is celebrated with a unique festival format where the creative process is understood as a collaboration among many people, across time and space, in commerce and culture.”
“By day, Moogfest is a platform for conversation and experimentation. This mind-expanding conference attracts creative and technology enthusiasts for three days of participatory programming in Durham, North Carolina. By night, Moogfest presents cutting-edge music in venues throughout the city. Performing artists include early pioneers in electronic music, alongside pop and avant garde experimentalists of today.”
Listed among 10 Events You Can’t Miss at Moogfest.
Composer Tod Machover will be giving a Keynote Talk called MUSIC, MEDICINE AND MEANING at the Mt.Sinai-Louis Armstrong Center symposium “Turned On, Tuned In” in NYC on May 2. Inspired by Marvin Minsky’s seminal paper “Music, Mind and Meaning,” Machover will be building on the Opera of The Future group’s recent work in music, mind and health to predict and project how music can restore health, promote wellbeing, and be a “laboratory for meaning” over the coming years. Looks like a very interesting conference; drop by if you’re in NYC that day. Full schedule here. Register for the conference here.
You may interested in this public discussion – called Boundaries of the Possible – that composer Tod Machover will be having with biologist and new MIT Media Lab faculty member Kevin Esvelt. Part of the Catalyst Conversations series and co-hosted by MIT’s List Visual Arts Center, it will be held at the Media Lab Complex’s Bartos Theater, 20 Ames Street, Cambridge, Mass. on Monday, March 28 from 7-8 pm. Reception to follow.
Kevin and Tod will be discussing the potential for the arts (particularly music) and sciences (particularly biology) to initiate radical, positive social change, both separately and – well – in concert. Full info and reservations here.
Marvin loved music and it was a central part of his life. He grew up as a piano prodigy, but especially as a “thinker” about music. He understood music’s great pull on our emotions, and this made him curious, even suspicious. (He once asked me: “What right does Schumann have to order us around?”)…
One of my most powerful memories of Marvin is from a birthday party of mine that Marvin attended two years ago when his health was just starting to fail. It was one of those big birthdays, so our 18th century wooden barn just outside of Boston was filled with friends and family, and there was much hubbub.
About halfway through the gathering, Marvin asked if he could play me something and I said of course; the whole group crammed into the smaller part of my barn, where my keyboard is located. Unlike his usual improvisations, which often took place in parallel with multiple other activities, this one silenced the room and kept us riveted for 20 minutes or so.
Marvin started out in a musical world that conjured Beethoven’s late piano sonatas, especially the slow, fugal movements, then built harmonically and motivically into something original, powerful, and surprising at every turn.
When Marvin finished, we all knew that we had heard something very special, full of joyful, inventive spontaneity but also—I suspect—having been carefully planned by Marvin ahead of time to produce the coherent, probing, moving result.Improvisation and composition, emotion and thinking, perfectly united. Beethoven could not have done it better… Read more.
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.