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.
The piece, which premiered April 5 at Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center, was commissioned by the Philadelphia Orchestra as an homage to the City of Brotherly Love. Machover, an MIT-based composer who works with unconventional sounds and music technology, has previously created pieces based on Toronto and Detroit as well as Edinburgh, Scotland, Lucerne, Switzerland, and Perth, Australia.
“Philadelphia’s a bit of a quiet city in the streets,” he 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.”