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.