A Toronto Symphony – The Journey Begins

How does one go about composing a symphony with the citizenry of an entire city? Composer Tod Machover and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra are venturing into uncharted territory! To get going, they have conceived of the process as a Journey, with weekly activities to inspire participants to contribute raw material – stories, memories, ideas and sound samples. As the journey progresses, they will learn to use various tools to capture, compose and shape the material. It should be quite an adventure!

Stage One of the journey begins today. Sign up and join the fun!

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New Music Connoisseur reviews “…but not simpler…”

Critic Andrew Violette reviews Tod Machover’s latest CD “…but not simpler…” in the current (Fall/Winter 2011) issue of New Music Connoisseur. The full review is available here.

We especially appreciate that Mr. Violette sees past the technology to the essence of the music. For Tod, technology is part Muse, part means, but never the end in itself. Mr. Violette gets it. He writes:

“No, it’s not the technology which impresses. What impresses are those non-glamorous, essential and not easily acquired skills which are rarely discussed in The New York Times but which Mr. Machover possesses in abundance: skills such as the ability to create resonant sonorities; a seasoned sense of the long line and the long form; a knowing use of economy of means; and a firm grip on Fux counterpoint.”

Review: Machover CD an “absolutely stunning experience”

by Phil Muse for Atlanta Audio Video Club, reproduced here with permission

“…but not simpler,” music of Tod Machover
The iO String quartet; Michael Chertock, hyperpiano
Paul Mann, Odense Symphony Orchestra
Bridge Records

I know I’m getting along in years when I start encountering composers that I’m old enough to beat up. In the case of Tod Machover (b.1967), I’m afraid I will have to spare the rod. Not that he isn’t already spoiled enough as it is by an evident delight in strange, rare and beautiful sounds and musical colors worthy of the early years of childhood. But in these newer works, all composed 2001-2011, he shows a mature awareness of form and design that makes them all memorable experiences – and makes us realize that great new music didn’t come to an end just because composers stopped wearing long, shaggy beards!

Of course, Machover is still himself in his never-ending quest for ways to make musical colors ever more fetching and stunning. But the controversial figure who was once described in print as America’s “most wired composer” has tempered the electronics in these new compositions in favor of the natural timbres of the instruments themselves, tastefully enhanced by an electronic element that creates a vibrant halo illuminating the natural instrumental sounds. Or conversely, as Machover describes what he does in his 2001 work Sparkler, the sounds of the orchestra “push, pull, twist, and morph” with their electronic extensions. At the same time, Machover’s controlled venturesomeness in terms of rhythm, tempo, and dynamics makes the music so scintillating that “Fireworks” would have been a likelier title for this work. Continue reading