Now on YouTube, “Chomsky Suite”

Chomsky Suite (2011) was composed by Tod Machover for Noam Chomsky and the Kronos Quartet as part of the FAST Festival in celebration of MIT’s 150th anniversary. It was premiered at MIT’s Kresge Auditorium on April 11, 2011 during the Festival’s New Music Marathon, curated by Evan Ziporyn. Machover says of the work: “I was asked to create a piece for the Kronos Quartet based on Noam Chomsky’s work. I decided that it didn’t feel right to set Chomsky’s words to music; instead I wanted Chomsky to appear on stage with the quartet. I didn’t want to script a narration, but rather to set up a situation where Chomsky would respond in the moment to what he was hearing, and – prompted by onstage questions from Kronos’ founder and violinist, David Harrington – would hopefully address key issues from his work, his life, his activism, and his lifelong love of music. So I composed music based on Bach’s Cello Suite No.1, designed so that it would inspire Chomsky to listen, reflect and respond, with the music in turn responding to whatever Chomsky ended up saying. (I chose the Bach because Noam had told me that it was a key piece in his life, as it has been in mine.) David Harrington and I spent a lot of time planning the event together, and we also spoke numerous times with Chomsky. But we didn’t let Noam know ahead of time exactly what would happen on stage, nor did he hear any of the music in advance. Chomsky Suite has five movements; the speaker listens in movements one, three and five, and responds in movements two and four.” This performance was enhanced by live video produced by Peter Torpey, which included multiple video feeds of the performance as well as video of Chomsky on stage by videographer Joan Logue. Additional video captured was edited by Paula Aguilera and Jonathan Williams into the version we are delighted to be able to share with you now.”

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