Reporter Andrea Shea delves into the creation of Tod Machover’s newest symphonic work, “Philadelphia Voices.”
From the famous Mummers’ New Year’s Day Parade to the sizzling of celebrated cheesesteaks, acclaimed U.S composer and inventor Tod Machover has been collecting sounds for his latest piece ‘Philadelphia Voices,’ a composition inspired by the heritage, sights and sounds of Philadelphia, the city known as the birthplace of American democracy.
Then in his barn studio, next to his Boston home, he manipulates these hours and hours of recording, crafting them into the music and soundscape for the piece. We also have behind the scenes access as the composition receives its premiere performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra and local choirs.
New World Symphony
The Atlantic’s CityLab blog reports on Tod Machover’s two new city symphony projects, in Miami and Philadelphia. You can read it here: Turning Street Noise Into a City Symphony.
“Like so many things in our culture, there’s a growing gap between experts and ordinary people, and I thought music is such a great laboratory to show how things can be different,” says Machover. “So I wanted the project to be a representation of connecting people—no matter what their background was in music—as equals.”
In this interview, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra, discusses Tod Machover’s “Philadelphia Voices,” a work commissioned for 2018. The orchestra is featuring American composers during its 2017-2018 season. Other works included the Bernstein Centenary featuring “West Side Story,” “Chichester Psalms,” and Symphony No. 2 for Piano and Orchestra (“The Age of Anxiety”); Wynton Marsalis’s Violin Concerto; and Michael Tilson Thomas’s “Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind.”
Tod Machover’s SYMPHONY FOR LUCERNE was aired 10 days ago on WQXR radio in New York. You can hear it here (and also hear how very different it is from SYMPHONY IN D for Detroit), as well as listen to an excellent interview with Jeff Spurgeon where he and Tod discuss Lucerne, its symphony, alpenhorns, cowbells, Fasnacht and more.
Composer Tod Machover works with a Detroit Symphony Orchestra percussionist on what the beat of Detroit sounds like.
CREDIT EMILY FOX / MICHIGAN RADIO
Michigan Radio’s Emily Fox chats with Tod Machover about the “Symphony in D” project. You can listen here to How to create a symphony of Detroit.
In the interview, Tod explains how he is working with people from all over Detroit to convey the story of the city’s vibrant history and diverse communities through sound, which he will transform into an orchestral piece. One of our favorite quotes:
Machover says another part of this project is to send the message that classical music isn’t just something that only a few special people can make.
“I think classical music is one of the domains where we’re most scared or intimidated about participating because the level of expertise is so high and of course there are certain things you can do in classical music that you can only do if you devote yourself to it for 20 years, but it would be such a more vital field if everybody was touching it somehow,” he says.
That point is getting across to the students. 13-year-old Emiilah Shuler and 11-year-old Samuel Pickens felt inspired after composing their mini Symphony in D.
“I think it gives us a chance to believe that we can do that one day, when we are all grown up, anything is possible,” says Shuler.
Pickens adds, “I’m glad to be helping my hometown make a symphony and I feel proud.”
Two MIT undergrads, Chantine Akiyama and Sue Liang, did this interview with Tod Machover about his SYMPHONY IN D project. It’s fun and refreshing, and conveys their perspective on the project. Tod speaks about the main goals for the project. They include:
First, the music that emerges as the Symphony must be a piece that can stand on its own. It must be an emotional human statement about a place, and a specific one: Detroit.
Second, the Symphony is a research goal. The creation of this symphony is a great way to develop models where all different people of different cultures can come together and care about each other and contribute something. Every individual deserves to be represented and given a voice, and art is fantastic because you can create a model of how you want society to be. Through this project we can create spaces for collaboration and compassion..
Read the full interview here.