“Vocal Vibrations” next month in Paris

From the New York Times, Feburary 24, 2014

Vocal Vibrations. Le Laboratoire, Paris. Opens March 28. Free.

From the people who brought you inhalable chocolate, here comes a high-tech singalong. Visitors start in a chamber filled with ethereal music by the composer Tod Machover. When they wander into a private “cocoon” designed by Neri Oxman, they can sing while an electronic necklace measures vibrations in the larynx, getting instant feedback as the sonic aura adapts to the visitor’s voice and a grapefruit-size “orb” vibrates in the hands. The installation will feed into a larger investigation on the healing power of the human voice. When it travels to Cambridge, Mass., in the fall, a cartilage expert will ask whether skilled humming might improve the health of joints, a neuroscientist will try to match up vocal performance and brain measurements, and a Tibetan monk will attempt to engineer a better method of chanting.


Juilliard Journal interviews Tod Machover

The current issue of the Juilliard Journal is devoted to “Technology and the Arts,” a bold, good move for this bastion of traditional classical music! The issue includes an interesting interview with  Tod Machover. Tod discusses how he first became intrigued by computers when he was studying composition at Juilliard, how he arrived at IRCAM and the MIT Media Lab, and some of his ideas for the future of music.

Read the full interview here.

Tod Machover (B.M. ’73, M.M. ’75, composition) is one of the world’s pre-eminent practitioners of and spokesmen for the intersections of music and technology. But the first time he wanted to learn to program a computer was soon after he arrived at Juilliard, to study with Elliott Carter (faculty 1966-84). “One of the reasons I was interested in studying with Carter was that I was really interested in complexity in my music,” says Machover, who recalls writing a string trio in which each instrument was slowing down or speeding up independent of the others. It was so complicated that he couldn’t convince anyone to play it, and “a sort of lightbulb went off,” he said, adding that he thought “computers are out there, and if you have an idea and can learn how to program, you should be able to model it.”

Sara Heaton as Miranda and Hal Cazalet (’96, voice/opera) as Nicholas—and robots—are seen in a 2011 Chicago Opera Theater performance of Tod Machover’s Death and the Powers. It will be presented by the Dallas Opera this month.  (Photo by Jonathan Williams)

Sara Heaton as Miranda and Hal Cazalet (’96, voice/opera) as Nicholas—and robots—are seen in a 2011 Chicago Opera Theater performance of Tod Machover’s Death and the Powers. It will be presented by the Dallas Opera this month. (Photo by Jonathan Williams)

Photos from Rio

Just posted on Tod Machover’s Facebook:

Sunday morning in Rio. Got here yesterday morning; first time here. Overwhelmed, beyond words. Sensuality and complexity, beauty and squalor, sophistication and simplicity…all not just side by side but interwoven, and absolutely enwrapped, as the sea sweeps across the land, the hills are everywhere, and favelas climb up and tumble down all over. Bouncing balls (volley and soccer), bicycles, ocean waves and voices, but all is discrete and somewhat hidden. A surprise beyond every turn.

New York Times features Opera of the Future

The M.I.T. Media Lab Opera of the Future group’s work is the subject of a full-page article by Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim in the August 16th issue of the New York Times. It’s an engagingly written piece that covers the history of Tod Machover’s work in music composition and technology, from hyperinstruments to “Death and the Powers” and ongoing experiments in interactive composition for orchestras. Accompanying the story is a terrific slide show of photographs by Katherine Taylor. Tod’s newest work, “Festival City”, premieres next week, on August 27th, at the Edinburgh International Festival.

Here’s the article: Duet for Composition and Software

Here’s the slide show.

Photo by Katherine Taylor

Photo by Katherine Taylor

City to light up for “A Toronto Symphony”

Vikram K. Mulligan photo

Vikram K. Mulligan photo

The Opera of the Future team has been sleepless in Toronto, frantically finishing the audio and visuals that will accompany the world premiere of “A Toronto Symphony” whilst squeezing in rehearsals in between New Creations Festival performances. Tickets are available here.

The spectacle will spill out beyond the confines of Roy Thomson Hall to take over the landmark CN Tower! Music blogger John Terauds broke the news in this story: News flash: CN Tower to make Toronto Symphony Orchestra début on Saturday night:

The finished piece is clocking in at nearly 30 minutes, which means that there will be thousands of people unaware of the concert gawping at the city’s tallest landmark wondering what the heck is going on.

“We were given all the controls, even the one to make it brighter,” said Machover, with more than a hint of glee.

Here’s the official press release. The performance will be live streamed via TSO.CA, starting around 9:00PM EST this Saturday, March 9.

Here is what the press has been saying:

NEW! Toronto Life – The Argument: Musical visionary Tod Machover crowd-sourced a symphony for Toronto—now other cities want one too – “The Toronto experiment demonstrates that our most precious creative resource is not necessarily crowds of eager, iPhone-wielding amateurs, but rather a few utopian-minded geniuses like Machover who believe there are better and more fun ways to make music than sitting alone in a room.”

Toronto NOW – Tod Machover: What does Toronto sound like anyway? – “It’s not just about technology, but figuring out how the symphony can evolve into the 21st century,” he says. “The relationship between the public and artist, how we participate – I think all of that is going to change.” 

Toronto Star – Toronto gets the symphony treatment – “Tod was really different. Mozart and Beethoven are not as crazy as Tod,” says the violinist from Oakville, who notes city sounds are entirely different than those of the suburbs. “Toronto is living, it doesn’t die, doesn’t sleep,” says Choi, 18. “It is filled with colours. There is a story on every street.”

Musical Toronto – A Toronto Symphony composer Tod Machover keeps adding interaction weeks before premiere “A Toronto Symphony is a great exercise in harnessing the latest digital and social media tools for something that is normally a small, esoteric part of our larger culture. It is a great way to remind anyone of any age that creativity is not the domain of uniquely gifted individuals.”

Canadian Jewish News – New symphony features the sounds of Toronto – “Our city needs a symphony of our own, and it was due to Tod’s vision and the thousands of collaborators in Toronto, [that we could] create a music composition that will make us all proud,” said TSO music director Peter Oundjian, who will conduct the new composition.

Boosey & Hawkes has posted the score for A Toronto Symphony online.

Rehearsal Pics – “Jeux Deux”

The Toronto Symphony’s New Creations Festival opens today!

With Machover as guest-curator, the 2013 New Creations Festival takes a suitably technology-driven perspective, exploring the evolution of music from past to future with a selection of boundary-bending works which bring the past to the present and redefines the instruments of an orchestra. The Festival opens with the Canadian première of Arcadiac, where Canadian composer Nicole Lizée’s work will have the orchestra perform live accompaniment to vintage arcade games of the 1970s and 1980s, followed by Machover’s Jeux Deux, an interweaving of hyperpiano, orchestra, interactive software and live graphics (Mar 2, 2013). The Festival’s opening programme closes with guest conductor Carolyn Kuan leading the Canadian première of the Mason Bates’s symphony-scale piece Alternative Energy, which depicts the past, present, and future of energy using field recordings and acoustic orchestra.

Here’s Tod Machover yesterday onstage at Roy Thomson Hall with “hyper pianist” Michael Chertock rehearsing “Jeux Deux”, composed for the Boston Pops in 2005. Chertock performed in the world premiere (watch video clip).

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