An Emmy for “Symphony in D” documentary

Congratulations to Dennis Scholl, Marlon Johnson and Tod Machover for taking home an Emmy for Best Cultural Documentary for the film of SYMPHONY IN D at the Michigan Emmy Awards last night! Check out the trailer above. Dennis Scholl and Marlon Johnson picked up the awards in Detroit (photo below). Tod had to stay home to work on his next opera, but he wrote to his co-producers: “Congratulations to the whole team. This was such a great collaboration, one I will never forget.”


A 21st century opera house for Boston?



Check out Tod Machover’s letter to the editor of the Boston Globe, in response to a recent Globe article “Boston overdue for a proper opera house“:

With a clean slate, with the leadership of BLO and others, and with the participation of the area’s vital artistic and academic communities, Boston could design and build the first great opera house of the 21st century — post-multimedia, organically shape-shifting, massively connectable, an “instrument” rather than an icon, ideal for reimagining tradition while creating explosive new experiences — that would embrace the public, energize the art form, and be a beacon of inspiration to the region, the country, and the world.

Read the full letter here.

St. Louis Gateway Arch

From Tod Machover’s Facebook page:

Perhaps the most perfect public monument I have ever seen, far more impressive and indelible in person – because of the site, subtleties and significance – than in iconography. It was Eero Saarinen’s first independent commission; he had worked in tandem with his father before that, and he beat out his dad for this commission. The story goes that the family was seated at dinner awaiting news of who won the commission. News arrived saying the father – Eliel Saarinen – had won; dad broke out champagne and everyone drank a toast to his victory. Then another phone call arrived saying that there had been a mistake, and that the son – Eero Saarinen had won for the Arch design…without saying a word, the father broke out ANOTHER bottle of champagne and drank a toast to his son. A beautiful story.

Click on any image to view in large format.

Tod Machover to speak on “Democratic Excellence”

David Rittenhouse, who served as president of the American Philosophical Society until 1796.

David Rittenhouse, who served as president of the American Philosophical Society until 1796.

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

Chamber Music America Keynote (VIDEO)

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.

Remembering Elliott Carter

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.

Tod Machover with Elliott Carter at his home in Waccabuc, NY

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.”

Music connects teens with Alzheimer patients

Adam Boulanger,Adam Boulanger (right) works with student Joshua Worthing on a composition. Photo by Lucy Schaly.

Here’s a cool article and video from Adam Boulanger’s visit last week to Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School in Midland, PA. Twenty-one students from the school are being trained to teach Alzheimer’s patients to use a music composition tool. They are part of  a collaborative research study with the M.I.T. Media Lab, the Cleveland Clinic and the Yamaha Music and Wellness Institute.

Adam, a postdoctoral researcher at the Media Lab, spent the day training students to compose music using Hyperscore. This graphical music composition tool was developed some years ago by Tod Machover’s Opera of the Future research group at the Media Lab, and has been used with great success around the world. Originally designed for children, it has been embraced by adults and has even shown powerful therapeutic benefits in people with physical and psychiatric disabilities (see Tod’s TED Talk).

Early next year, the students will teach 18 volunteer seniors to compose music using Hyperscore as part of a clinical trial.

Read the article in the Beaver County Times.