21c Liederabend (Reviews)

Last week’s 21c Liederabend at the Brooklyn Academy of Music garnered some media attention. Here’s the New York Times’ review: A Wink Toward Tradition in a Modern Evening. Public radio station WNYC provided a preview and aired “Sophia’s Aria” from Tod Machover’s opera VALIS. Listen here: A Modern Liederabend.

This year’s 21c Lieberabend included a performance of “Miranda’s Aria” from “Death and the Powers,” performed by Sara Heaton, who performed the role in Boston and Chicago. Here’s a video of the original performance by Joélle Harvey in Monaco. She will return as Miranda in the Dallas Opera’s production next February.


BBC report on “Festival City”

Last night’s world premiere of “Festival City” went off without a hitch. The Royal Scottish National Orchestra players were on fire, and the acoustics in Usher Hall were excellent. Kudos too to the Edinburgh International Festival audience for their commitment and enthusiasm to new work. Check out this BBC report from the rehearsal, including a video with interviews with Tod Machover and RSNO conductor Peter Oundjian. The entire performance was also recorded and we hope will be broadcast soon. Stay tuned…

Read and watch video here: Edinburgh’s crowdsourced symphony made with MIT apps

Vocal Vibrations (Video)

The spectacular Blue Heron vocal ensemble performing in the MIT Chapel.

Post by Elly Jessop and Rebecca Kleinberger

As part of the Dalai Lama’s visit to MIT, the Opera of the Future Group performed an experiment in collaboration with the vocal ensemble Blue Heron, Affectiva, Elliott Hedman, and Tenzin Priyadarshi, director of the Dalai Lama Center at MIT.  During Blue Heron’s stunning performance of early choral music on Monday, we used Affectiva’s Q Sensors to track and measure the reactions of selected singers and audience members over the course of the concert.   The wireless Q Sensors, worn on the wrists or palms, measure the wearer’s skin conductance, which increases during emotional states such as anticipation, excitement, surprise, or anxiety.  Through the information provided by these sensors, we can examine the similarities and differences in the affective reactions of various singers and audience members.

Tod and Elliott presented some of the affective stories of a few performers and audience members stories on Tuesday at the beginning of the Dalai Lama’s final talk at MIT.   Continue reading

Toy Symphony in Glasgow (2002)

We wanted to share this lovely video footage from our archives. On June 2, 2002, Tod Machover’s Toy Symphony was performed by the BBC Scottish Symphony under the baton of Gerhard Markson. Renowned violinist Joshua Bell played a special “hyperviolin”.  He shared the spotlight with kids playing Beat Bugs and Music Shapers, as well as a children’s chorus.

Visit the Toy Symphony project homepage for more information.

Armenia Project – Video of concert now available

It’s wonderful what young people can achieve if just given the tools, encouragement and respect. Back on February 25, 2012, two of Armenia’s elite musical ensembles dig into new pieces composed entirely by children from Armenia and the United States. The children used Hyperscore software developed by the MIT Media Lab’s Opera of the Future group. The concert, “A-to-A: A World in Harmony,” featured the Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra and DOGMA, one of the country’s most popular rock bands. The event was streamed live. Here’s the press release that describes the background of the event.  The live stream was recorded and is now available for your viewing pleasure:

Blast from the past – Brain Opera

You never know what you’ll stumble across on the Internet. This week’s buried treasure come to light is this video clip from a presentation Tod Machover gave in 1996 at Ars Electronica in Linz, Austria. Visitors to the famous electronic arts festival had an opportunity to explore the interactive installation and take in a live performance of this landmark work. For more information about the Brain Opera, check out this website. It’s a bit outdated, but Tod says there are plans to refurbish the site with material from the digital archives.

The Economist: Inventing the opera of the future (video)

The Economist has published an excellent article “A technology maestro,” about Tod Machover‘s work at the MIT Media Lab. The magazine’s web site includes an excellent video documentary.  In the documentary, Tod explains how the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band motivated him to explore technologies that could bring the complexity and richness of studio-produced music to live performance. The documentary traces the trajectory of Tod’s ideas from the hyperinstruments he designed for world-class musicians to the Brain Opera and Toy Symphony which empowered children to create and perform music, and hyperscore technology that liberated Dan Ellsey to compose and perform music after a lifetime of being locked inside a paralyzed body. Most recently, his Media Lab team invented disembodied performance technology for the opera Death and the Powers. What’s next? Personal opera for the public, to be rolled out for the London Olympics?

Read the article here.

Watch the video here.