By Michael Cooper. A shoutout to Eine Sinfonie für Luzern, with reference to the Carnegie Hall performance of Philadelphia Voices.
A Real “Surprise” Symphony
Few concert halls are more serene, pristine, light and elegant than the airy white one Jean Nouvel designed for the Lucerne Festival in Switzerland. So it must have been a bit of a shock for the audience assembled there for the 2015 premiere of Tod Machover’s “A Symphony for Lucerne” when the conductor Matthias Pintscher turned his back on the orchestra and began conducting a rollicking marching band that had crashed the symphony. It was the Barfuessfäger, one of the papier-mâché-masked bands that usually plays during the city’s annual carnival, Fasnacht, a chaotic counterpoint to all that Swiss precision. The collision of marching band and Lucerne Festival Academy Orchestra surely would have pleased Charles Ives, who explored clashing marching bands in his works, and fit in with Mr. Machover’s mission of writing symphonies that capture the sound and spirit of cities.
They Are Here
“Philadelphia Voices,” Tod Machover’s new work for chorus and orchestra, incorporates the sounds of Philadelphians speaking, urban bustle and sizzling cheesesteaks into a 30-minute score. For the New York premiere of the piece on Tuesday at Carnegie Hall, the Philadelphia Orchestra was joined by the Keystone State Boychoir, the Pennsylvania Girlchoir and the Sister Cities Girlchoir (which draws participants from Philadelphia; Camden, N.J.; and Baltimore). Like similar American youth choruses, the Sister Cities Girlchoir responded to the pop singer-songwriter Alicia Keys’s call for a more equal and just world, embodied by her 2014 song “We Are Here.” That year the choir, taking up the challenge, released an inspiring video performance of the song. It’s especially moving when a montage begins showing members of the choir holding up handwritten signs: “I am here for peace,” for “joyfulness,” to “make my family proud,” to “make music.”
On Sept. 9, 2015, the Lucerne Festival Academy Orchestra offered the world premiere performance of Tod Machover's Symphony for Lucerne.
Over the course of a year, Machover invited people to use their smart phones to record sounds from around Lucerne. Machover himself returned to the city each month to record conversations, environmental sounds and musical performances. He then assembled the sounds at the MIT Media Lab, where he heads the Opera of the Future group, and incorporated them into his orchestral composition.
The Symphony for Lucerne is very literally meant to represent the sounds of the city, offering an aural portrait as experienced by Lucerne's residents and visitors.
Listen to the full performance at the top of this page, and hear WQXR's Jeff Spurgeon interview Machover about the project below.
MIT composer Tod Machover debuts multiple new works at prestigious Lucerne Festival.
By Peter Dizikes.
A new symphony that incorporates the sounds of the city it was composed for, and a concert where the musicians move around and use technologically enhanced instruments analyzing their performances — these are just two highlights of Tod Machover’s term as composer-in-residence for this year’s prestigious Lucerne Festival in Switzerland, including two world premieres later this month.
Machover, the Muriel R. Cooper Professor of Interactive Media Design at the MIT Media Lab, has written three new pieces in all — one already debuted, in August — and an updated performance of one of his classic works, “Hyperstring Trilogy,” originally written in part for the famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma.
By Allan Kozinn.
Tod Machover, the prolific composer of electronic works and the inventor of several hyperinstruments – hybrids in which standard instruments are enhanced with computer and synthesizer technology – has been appointed composer in residence for 2015 at the Lucerne Festival. His main project will be “Symphony for Lucerne,” a work meant to capture the spirit and culture of the city, and an installment in a series of city works that already includes “A Toronto Symphony: Concerto for Composer and City” (2013), “Festival City,” for Edinburgh (2013) and “Between the Desert and the Deep Blue Sea: A Symphony for Perth” (2014).
Tod Machover, der die Sinfonie für Luzern komponieren wird und beim Lucerne Festival im Sommer 2015 auch die Rolle des Composer-Inresidence übernehmen wird, gilt als einer der signifikantesten und innovativsten Komponisten unserer Generation. Seit 30 Jahren demonstriert er mit seiner Musik eine aussergewöhnliche stilistische Bandbreite, die dazu beigetragen hat, die Definition der Musik selbst und ihre Wirkung auf die Gesellschaft weiterzuentwickeln.
Machover ist für seine innovativen Werke bekannt wie zum Beispiel die Roboter-Oper „Death and the Powers“, die für den Pulitzer Preis 2012 in der finalen Auswahl stand. Seit 2012 arbeitet Machover an einer Serie von Stadt-Sinfonien, so entstanden in Toronto, Edinburgh und Perth (Australien) ähnliche Sinfonien wie die geplante in Luzern.
Er wurde 1953 in New York geboren, studierte an der Juilliard School bei Elliott Carter und wirkte an Pierre Boulez‘ IRCAM in Paris als Composer-In-Residence und als erster Director of Musical Research.