By Hilary Stroh.
Philadelphia Voices, which received its glowing world première tonight is the latest in Tod Machover’s collaborative City Symphonies. Each, by necessity, is one of a kind, reflecting the particularities of a place both in history and at this moment in time. Machover is committed to breaking the fourth wall of theatre and bringing the city into the concert hall by hosting jam sessions, panel discussions and workshops, eventually collecting 8000 recordings reflecting the soundscape of the city. MIT’s media lab enabled him to bring all this together.
(Credit: Hans van der Woerd)
The work is as its origins suggest: plural, multi-layered, a sensory overload reflective of the bustling energies of the sixth-largest city in America. Westminster Symphonic Choir were joined by young people from Keystone State Boychoir, Pennsylvania Girlchoir, and Sister Cities Girlchoir. Many of these choruses are devoted to giving underserved minorities access to music, so the very array of Philadelphia’s vocal power was a fine witness to what the work hoped to encourage: participative democracy.