Filmmaker Roxana Spicer followed the Opera of the Future team around for the months leading up to the premiere of “A Symphony for Toronto,” in March 2013. She documented the process of creating the team’s first collaborative symphony orchestra piece, which can be seen in her film Urban Symphony. The idea has captured the imaginations of communities around the world. Since then, “city symphonies” have been commissioned for Edinburgh, Scotland; Perth, Australia; Lucern, Switzerland; and Detroit, USA.
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!
Tod Machover’s A Toronto Symphony project will officially launch in Toronto on June 14 at ideacity, billed as “‘Canada’s Premier Meeting of the Minds’…an eclectic gathering of artists, adventurers, authors, cosmologists, doctors, designers, entertainers, filmmakers, inventors, magicians, musicians, scientists and technologists.” Joined by musicians from the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Tod will present the overall concept and take the audience through the first music to be created through this unprecedented experiment in creative collaboration. The presentation begins at 12:30PM ET. We are checking on whether a livestream will be available.
On June 17, the project will be launched to the whole city of Toronto at the finale of the Luminato festival.