A Symphony for Perth

Between the Desert and the Deep Blue Sea: A Symphony for Perth was composed from October 2013 to February 2014 for Carolyn Kuan and the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, on commission from the Perth International Arts Festival. The 25-minute work is a musical, sonic portrait of Perth and surrounding areas, and was created in collaboration with people from Perth of all ages and backgrounds (based on a creative model I developed for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the Edinburgh International Festival, both in 2013, designed to cultivate careful listening to the world around us to discover its hidden music).

Between the Desert and the Deep Blue Sea is a four movement work, played without a break, which conveys Perth’s dramatic geography, the simultaneous complexity and calm I have found there, and the enormous sense of potential and ‘unanswered questions’ that the city and region suggest. You can read more about the ideas behind the piece here and watch a brief trailer for A Symphony for Perth below:

I have travelled rather widely over the years, but I had never been to Perth (nor the rest of Australia) when Continue reading


Mulling Montaigne

From Tod Machover’s Facebook page:

MontaigneAm thinking about Michel de Montaigne today, in preparation for a trip to Montréal tomorrow to discuss a project based on Montaigne’s work. Montaigne invented the “essay” in the late 16th century, and his bold, undogmatic and unpretentious writings remain as fresh today as when they were first published. Can’t find a better guide for living. This excellent BBC Radio 4 discussion is a great intro. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00tt5kn

Sweden’s LOFT on A Toronto Symphony

The current issue of LOFT, the Scandinavian “bookazine” devoted to design, culture and creativity, features a lengthy interview and photographs documenting the “A Toronto Symphony” project. You can preview it here.

Toronto kids who participated in "A Toronto Symphony". Photo from LOFT.

Toronto kids who participated in “A Toronto Symphony”. Photo from LOFT.

Rehearsing Festival City

From Tod Machover’s Facebook page:

Exciting first rehearsal yesterday with full orchestra of FESTIVAL CITY. Here’s the Royal Scottish National Orchestra trying out the piece for the first time, in their rehearsal space in Glasgow. On my way back there now for more rehearsing. More pictures soon.


Repertoire Remix: Q&A


The MIT Media Lab has posted a terrific interview with Tod Machover and pianist Tae Kim that takes us deeper inside the collaborative process of creating “Festival City”. In the interview, Tod also speaks about how the experience is changing him:

For Festival City, I have taken a big risk by opening up the compositional process to the public and inviting the submission of material as well as the shaping of the composition to be shared. Besides the obvious reasons to do this–to establish a new kind of dialogue between artist and audience, and to open up the usually closed “black box” of the composition process so that all can peer inside–I am also excited by the potential of hearing new sounds and thinking differently about composing than I would if I had worked on this 100% in my barn-studio outside of Boston. So this is one element of the composition that will take me–and hopefully everyone–to some new musical territories.

Read the full interview here: Repertoire Remix: Q&A with Tod Machover and Tae Kim

Inside “Festival City” with Wired UK

Wired UK posted this excellent article today that provides an in-depth look at the Festival City project. Included are detailed descriptions of how the music apps work. We loved this:

To compose Festival City, which Machover hopes will bring out the contrasts of the city, Machover first invited people to submit raw material that reminded of them of Edinburgh during festival time. These could be pieces of music, sounds or recorded stories and anecdotes which were submitted by email, uploaded toSoundCloud or recorded on an answering phone. Sounds that particularly stood out for Machover were those of church bells and people talking in the lobbies discussing shows they’d just seen, as well what he describes as an “indie rock band of traffic”, where each of the cars stood out like soloists, rather than just collaborating to a single mass of traffic noise.

Tod is in Edinburgh this week and next, busy fine-tuning and rehearsing “Festival City”, which premieres next Tuesday, August 27th, at the Edinburgh International Festival. Tickets here.

Read the full article: Festival City: Tod Machover on crowdsourcing music with MIT apps for EIF


Wired UK

Repertoire Remix (VIDEO)

Last month, composer Tod Machover joined an online audience together with pianist Tae Kim in an experience that fused Web-based interaction with a live piano performance. This demo centered on the Cauldron app built at the Media Lab for the “Festival City” project commissioned by the Edinburgh International Festival. The app is populated with the sounds of the music most frequently performed over the history of the festival. The pieces are represented by colored circles, and participants online can “stir” the musical brew by positioning their cursors over the circles, which move and grow in response. During this live demo, Tod worked on a second interface to determine how the musical fragments would interact with one another, and piano virtuoso Tae Kim used the evolving images as a “score” to improvise music. His improvisations in turn will inform the final piece, which premieres on August 27th. Watch the demo in the video above.

This Guardian article provides a great description of how the demo works: Join us for an interactive improvisation session for Tod Machover’s Festival City project