Perth premiere

Updated March 8, 2014

Tod Machover’s newest collaborative symphony received its world premiere last Saturday evening at the finale of the 2014 Perth International Festival. Tod writes on his Facebook wall: “Symphony for Perth premiere went just great: large crowd with lots of young people, brilliant conducting by Carolyn Kuan, wonderful performance by WASO, lovely visuals by Peter Torpey of the MIT Media Lab, and a super-warm reception from the audience.”

CutCommon, a blog for “the new generation of classical music,” offers this insightful review. We love this quote: “Machover bring an outsider’s perspective to Perth, and as such is able to highlight the elements of our soundscape that excite him as a visitor. Machover’s vision is crafted with enough care and consideration that it rises above the superficial. Sounds are chosen not just for their meaning but also for their sonic and musical properties. In one glorious section of the first movement, a recording of speech delivered in the distinctive ‘softened ocker’ accent of West Australia blends beautifully with Machover’s orchestral composition, so that only the sharper, ‘bluer’ words gravitate to the audience’s attention. It is this wonderful division of sonic importance that defines the symphony.”

Here’s another interesting review: Western Australian: Composer distils unanswered questions: “It succeeds because Machover is not only an imaginative composer; he is also an empathic collaborator and dreamer who is able to perceive that the process, in the growth of a city as much as the growth of an individual, is as important as the end result.”


All set for Perth premiere

Hyperscore composers with Tod Machover on the stage of the Perth Concert Hall

Hyperscore composers with Tod Machover on the stage of the Perth Concert Hall

The Western Australia Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Carolyn Kuan was hard at work this morning polishing up Tod Machover’s brand-new “Symphony for Perth,” which premieres tonight at the finale of the 2014 Perth Festival. The much-anticipated work was featured in an extensive article published in today’s The Australian:

The ears of an outsider, particularly ones as attuned as Machover’s, can yield new interpretations of the familiar. One of the things that impressed him about Perth was a musical culture that was open to possibilities. “Perth is an interesting city where different groups of people intersect: an indie musician, an Aboriginal musician, a young person discovering music for the first time, someone playing the violin … There are so few preconceptions about the way things have to fit together.’’…

“I think that the ability to listen to the world, to hear the beauty, complexity and subtlety of what is already around us, will make each of our lives richer,’’ Machover says. “It is the way we can connect our imaginations with the outside world and communicate our deepest desires and dreams with others. I am trying to make a step in this direction with the process and the result of projects like a Symphony for Perth.’’

Read the full article: Tod Machover’s symphony for Perth pits man versus machine

Check out these fun Perth sounds!

Photo by Tanya Voltchanskaya

Photo by Tanya Voltchanskaya

There is a fun piece in The Guardian today about Tod’s upcoming symphony orchestra piece for Perth:  Flies, crows and crashing waves: the sounds that define Perth:

Tod Machover is creating a symphony for Perth. Or, more precisely, a symphony with Perth. Between a Desert and the Deep Blue Sea, which will premiere on March 1, will be created from sounds recorded by Machover and Perth residents in and around the city, in the same manner as city-made symphonies in Edinburgh and Toronto. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor and his band of researchers have been collecting sounds and encouraging citizens to manipulate them via special apps, in preparation for a performance with the Western Australian Symphony Orchestra. It’s truly collaborative music – and hugely exciting.

Check out the full article for the audio and evocative photography by Tanya Voltchanskaya.

And here is more coverage of the Perth Festival.

Press from Perth

TodInPerthCatch up on what Tod Machover has been doing in Perth in this article from  The Western Australian. He describes some of the unique nature sounds he has been hearing and talks about an ongoing workshop with school children who are using Hyperscore software to transcribe the sounds of their city into music. Although his recent projects have been described as “crowdsourced symphonies”, he explains that his approach is more of a back-and-forth collaboration than a one-way sourcing of material:

“I enjoy thinking about a big idea and bringing together a group of people, some prominent artists, some students, and to treat everyone as equal. Then to present an idea and just say ‘Let’s look at it together’.”

He says all too often social media is used as a form of marketing by established artists. “Which is fine but it kind of goes one way. It’s easy to follow what somebody prominent is doing but if you want to have a real dialogue it’s probably not going to happen. I’m more interested in a model where everybody gets stimulated somehow and the whole level gets raised for everyone.”

Read the full article here.

Perth Journal

Tod Machover wrote on his Facebook page:

On November 5, 2013

Spent some wonderful time yesterday in Perth with Richard Walley, one of Australia’s most distinguished artists and musicians. He is a member of the Nyoongar people, and he filled in many gaps in my knowledge of the history of indigenous people in Australia, from ancient times through the recent past. I don’t think I’ve ever learned so much in such a short time; tough stuff too, although Richard is an absolute prince. Great didgeridoo player as well. Richard is bringing his four sons along tomorrow so I can hear and record a “didgeridoo chorus” and really learn about the instrument. The Perth Festival found me a cello as well, so we’ll have a didge-cello-fest! I think that the two instruments complement each other in really interesting ways…although perhaps not with THIS cellist:)


On November 6, 2013

Here’s a picture from this evening’s jam with Richard Walley. His four sons came to play with us as well, but it was dark when they arrived at the Perth Festival office, so they thought no one was home and left. Oh well. But Richard and I had a grand old time, and the didgeridoo and the cello complement each other very well. Who knew?!? One more day in Perth, and then LOTS of thinking about how to integrate all of these incredible experiences and sounds into the Perth Symphony!


On November 7, 2013

The Perth Festival 2014 just had its big launch, and it was quite an extravaganza. Took place in the Perth Concert Hall, which was completely full. Festival Director Jonathan Holloway went through the whole impressive program, including my new piece ( I fly home to Boston tomorrow – finally! – but look forward to being back in Perth in late February for rehearsals and premiere of the Perth Symphony.


On November 8, 2013

Well, the 2014 Perth Festival was launched last evening, and so was my new Perth Symphony ( I did much of the groundwork over these past two weeks, listening to the city and to its natural surroundings, meeting musicians of all ages and backgrounds, and working with students from 4th grade through grad school. The work premieres to close the Festival on March 1, so it will be busy busy busy between now and then. Just got home from Perth after what seemed like 200 hours of flying…so first some sleep!


Pictures from Perth

Tod Machover is exploring Perth, Australia, this week, immersing himself in every corner he can find to try to understand what makes this beautiful city tick and searching for the “sounds of Perth.” Here are some photos he has been posting to his (private) Facebook page. We’re sure these places and impressions will bubble up in the new orchestra piece that he’ll be composing over the coming months.

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