By Michael Cooper
PHILADELPHIA — “Can I get one with whiz, no onion?” a hungry young man called into the window of Pat’s King of Steaks. The counterman deftly flipped a sizzling skein of thinly sliced steak onto a roll and then applied a lacquer of Cheez Whiz to create a classic Philly cheesesteak.
Taking it all in with a digital recorder and high-end binaural microphones one day in February was the composer Tod Machover, who writes symphonies about cities around the world and brings some of their most characteristic sounds into the concert hall.
(Photo Credit: Jessica Kourkounis for The New York Times)
Mr. Machover was nearly finished with his latest work, “Philadelphia Voices,” which the Philadelphia Orchestra and the conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin will perform at Carnegie Hall on Tuesday, but he was not quite satisfied with an earlier attempt to capture the sizzle of a cheesesteak. So he went back for a second helping
By Russell Pratt
Another new-music event of interest comes courtesy of the exciting conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Philadelphia Orchestra (April 10, at Carnegie Hall): a performance of “Philadelphia Voices,” a new piece by Tod Machover, a gifted composer who occupies a unique space between high art and advanced technology. The work, which incorporates sounds from the city and its people, is part of a program that also includes Bernstein’s “Chichester Psalms” and Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition.”
(Illustration by Seb Agresti)
Philadelphia Inquirer: Philadelphia Orchestra's new oratorio wit' cheesesteaks was great fun at its Philly premiere
By David Patrick Stearns
The stage of Verizon Hall was so crowded with complex percussion and electronic equipment and, of course, the Philadelphia Orchestra that you weren’t sure how anyone could physically maneuver during the Thursday premiere of Philadelphia Voices by Tod Machover.
(Photo Courtesy of the Philadelphia Orchestra)
And that didn’t even count the amassed choirs that crowded the seating area overlooking the stage. Living up to its name meant Philadelphia Voices had a lot to encompass, and a seasoned composer like Machover cast a wide net that included not just orchestral effects but speech, singing, much in between, and field recordings made around Philadelphia.
Based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology but currently a guest professor at the Curtis Institute, Machover has written a number of city-driven pieces, and he spent the last year assembling this one in the spirit of a documentary filmmaker — though with no obligation to tell a linear story.
Philadelphia Inquirer: Mummers and sizzling Philly cheesesteaks get their Philadelphia Orchestra moment
By David Patrick Stearns
Suffering for art took on frigid new meaning for composer Tod Machover while creating his new symphony for the Philadelphia Orchestra.
His Philadelphia Voices couldn't possibly live up to its name without Machover experiencing the Mummers, so there he was at the parade on New Year's Day. Remember how cold it was? "My butt was frozen to the metal bleachers at the viewing stand," said the brainy, bushy-haired Machover.
COURTESY PHILADELPHIA ORCHESTRA
Composer Tod Machover at Pat’s King of Steaks, where he sampled the sound of sizzling cheesesteaks for his new piece, “Philadelphia Voices.”
Bachtrack: Philadelphia: America's great experiment brought to life in Machover première
phindie - The Philadelphia Orchestra pulls in an audience with a surprisingly good Philadelphia Voices
By Margaret Darby.
Tod Machover. Photo by Joi Ito.
Knowing that the program would contain a collage of sounds and poetry collected and collaged by Tod Machover, creative director at MIT’s Media Lab, I assumed Philadelphia Voices would be a cute, little, piece of popular music with trite songs about cheesesteaks. It was neither trite nor trivial. Machover created some serious music and selected some very striking poetry by Philadelphians. My favorite verses came from the pen of a brilliant teenager named Jayda Hepburn. Hepburn, a Mighty Writer, wrote some lines that resonate:
“The City of Brotherly Love rests on the river/And we all await the next morning/Waiting to love again.”Another verse by Ms. Hepburn stayed with me: “The country is full of black people/And pain and blood and gunsmoke/And anger and a mother’s tears/And screaming/And us black people scream back/And pray for the night to end/For mom to dry her tears/And for someone to fucking listen.”
The uncensored verses were deftly incorporated into a surprisingly classical score, undergirded by a strong organ part which provided both musical support and, in other sections, a musical backdrop of sports arena music and dancing block parties. Machover used rhythms to great effect: a series of 5/8 measures for “Philadelphia” and some 7/8 for “Benjamin Franklin” which the Keystone State Boychoir and Pennsylvania Girlchoir sang with crisp and controlled intonation.
By Jeremy Rose.
Given the task of channeling Philadelphia’s spirit through an orchestra, composer Tod Machover turned to the city’s food and drink scene for some of his inspiration — and for the most prominent solo in his Philadelphia Voices, he tabbed the city’s star performer: the cheesesteak.
‘Philadelphia Voices’ includes a recording from behind the counter at Pat’s.
“Philadelphia’s a bit of a quiet city in the streets,” Machover said in a video explaining his process of getting to know the city. “But if you go inside, especially into cafés and bars and restaurants, it’s one of the noisiest cities I’ve ever been to, which is great — it means that people are talking and enjoying and arguing. That’s a great sound to record.”
PhillyVoice: Composer samples sounds of Pat’s Steaks, Eagles victory to create ‘Philadelphia Voices’
The Philadelphia Orchestra will perform the work Tuesday at Carnegie Hall. He based the composition on recorded sounds, including the sizzle of a cheesesteak.
(Credit: Jessica Griffin/Philadelphia Orchestra)
By Peter Crimmins.
This week, the Philadelphia Orchestra premieres a new musical composition about its home city, by the city — in a way.
Boston composer Tod Machover has written “city symphonies” in Toronto, Perth, Detroit, and Edinburgh. Machover lands in a city, explores it through a tape recorder and hundreds of interviews with residents, and writes a large-scale work for orchestra.
(Photo credit: Emma Lee for WHYY)
He prefers places where he can weigh the good, the bad, and the ugly. Places populated by people who believe they live in a perfect city make him uncomfortable, he said.
“Here, I think you see all the sides of what’s possible, all the time,” Machover said. “It’s all mixed up. You can’t get away from it.”
“Philadelphia Voices” features the city’s proud history as the birthplace of democracy; a list of civic firsts, including libraries, zoos, electricity (Benjamin Franklin’s name is dropped many times); a paean to the block party; and an extended gush about this year’s Super Bowl win.
It is also about racism, redlining, and trash.
By Natalie Pompilio.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A symphony debuting this week both captures and celebrates the distinctive sounds and sizzle of Philadelphia, from veteran radio announcer Merrill Reese’s call of the Eagles’ Super Bowl victory to a cook chopping steak on the grill at one of this city’s iconic cheesesteak joints.
Composer Tod Machover listened to hundreds of hours of recordings and used about a third of all the sounds he received. He selected those he said had “strong personalities” and conveyed some important aspect of the city.
Screaming is even a part of the vocal material.
By Jennifer Logue.
We’ve all gone sightseeing, but have you ever experienced a city strictly through its sounds?
That’s been the mission of Tod Machover, composer and MIT professor, who has spent the past five years creating “City Symphonies.”
His first project took him to Toronto and then he was off to Perth, Edinburgh, Lucerne, Switzerland, Detroit, Miami and now, Philadelphia.
“It’s a portrait of the city using the normal forces of the orchestra, but also tapping into a city’s spirit through the sounds of street life, traffic and parks,” Machover says. “I’m a big believer in the power of music to touch people’s lives. These days, you really have to invent new ways for people to feel.”
By John McDevitt.
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Sounds of Philadelphia have been turned into a symphony. The Philadelphia Orchestra debuts its community-based commission later this week with thousands of recorded sounds and voices from the area blended in.
Several Philadelphia-area choirs will be on stage performing live with the orchestra for the Philadelphia Voices symphony at the Kimmel Center, April 5-7. Recorded sounds of Philadelphia will also be interspersed at times, like a man making cheese steaks in South Philly, a day at the Philadelphia Zoo, or at the Museum of the American Revolution.