Pairing this technology with dancers trained in Ensemble Thinking would a powerful experience.
“CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — On a recent Tuesday afternoon, Tod Machover, a professor of music and media at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab and head of the Opera of the Future group there, assembled his students in his glass-walled lab. The space was cluttered with computers, triangular-headed robots, colorful fabric-covered children’s toys and digital control tables. A large metal chandelier hung suspended from the ceiling, its swooping curves and fanned-out spokes giving it the look of a mathematically minded jellyfish.
But at this moment all eyes were fixed on the Cauldron, a computer program developed by Mr. Machover and his group, which was being remotely stirred, so to speak, in Edinburgh. On screens throughout the room, colorful blobs bearing the names of composers floated toward each other, pulsated, grew and shrank, as unseen participants voted by mouse click for a particular composer.
Seated at a Yamaha piano, Tae Kim, a highly skilled improviser, turned the visual brew into sound, reacting to the changing composer bubbles on screen as he fluidly connected snippets of Mozart’s “Magic Flute” with those from Bach’s “Goldberg Variations” and Elgar’s “Nimrod.” Mr. Machover looked on with keen interest.
The remotely controlled improvisation was part of the composition process of Mr. Machover’s “Festival City,” a symphonic work he was writing for — and partly with — the city of Edinburgh, and which will receive its premiere at a festival there on Aug. 27. The piece weaves in city sounds and quotations from the classical works most often performed at the Edinburgh International Festival over the years. Playful, inclusive and driven by a delight in the creative possibilities of computers, it well represents Mr. Machover’s work.”
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