By Rébecca Kleinberger, Diana Robinson, Alexandra Rieger, Sizi Chen.
Here we are at last, finally arriving in Philadelphia: the birthplace of democracy in the U.S., the city of Benjamin Franklin, and the epicenter of the American Revolution. Philadelphia is an incredibly diverse, historic, and multifaceted city of activists, community organizers, and neighborhoods. We have been looking forward to this project. Tod Machover’s first City Symphony A Symphony for Toronto, sparked an international celebration of many other cities around the world including Perth (Australia), Edinburgh (UK), and Lucerne (Switzerland). After Symphony in D that painted a sonic portrait of the city of Detroit, our first American City, we finally arrived in Philadelphia! Today, we launched Philadelphia Voices at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia with an experimental performance composed and directed by Tod Machover, in which 16 young singers from the Commonwealth Choir improvised based on three words “Philadelphia”, “Benjamin Franklin”, and “democracy” to honor Philadelphia’s role in American democracy. After the performance, the audience was invited to experience some of the visionary technologies the MIT Media Lab has developed to allow anyone to contribute audio, video, original compositions, voices and more, and to help shape the feel and story of each City Symphony through a new kind of collective creativity. Drexel University’s ExCITe, directed by Professor Youngmoo Kim, also showcased its latest research projects in music technology, including a “voice tube” that allowed people to manipulate the audio signals of their voices to create new sounds.