A Toronto Symphony Workshop – Sept. 29

Join Tod Machover on Saturday, September 29th, in the South lobby of Roy Thomson Hall where he’ll be experimenting in creating the sounds of Toronto with musicians from the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra. Tod will share his ideas about the beyond-crowd sourced composition and give you a chance to hear the music as it is being created and well before its premiere at the New Creations Festival in March 2013.

This is truly a unique opportunity to create something new that represents what the city of Toronto means to each of us. Details here.

Weekend Highlight – Glenn Gould Variations

Tod's cello

This weekend, Tod will join 50 other presenters (from Robert Wilson to Atom Egoyan to Lang Lang!) at the University of Toronto’s Convocation Hall for an extraordinary gathering of “Dreamers Renegades Visionaries” to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the iconoclastic pianist and boundary breaker’s birth. Check out this terrific article about the event in Whole Note (“Spinning Gould – 30 years after”).

Tod is scheduled to speak and perform at 5pm on Saturday, the 22nd. He posted this photo on Facebook this morning and gave a hint about what he’ll be presenting:

Here is my cello resting this morning in our barn outside of Boston, preparing to travel to Toronto tomorrow for the big Gould event. I’ll be playing the solo cello (something I don’t do often these days, but am happy to do to pay homage to Gould) to “shed a light” on – and make connections between – shards of music hidden in hundreds of sound images sent from Toronto as part of my A Toronto Symphony project…I promise it will be unusual:)

Here’s a teaser from Tod’s montage of sounds of Toronto –

Getting high on music

The CN Tower

This Sunday, September 23, Tod Machover is leading a vocal workshop with a group called FYI Kids at an unusual location – atop the CN Tower! They will take over an event room from 10-Noon. We hear the kids are preparing several a cappella songs to perform. FYI Kids’ founder and President Dwayne Dixon says “nothing gives me greater joy than to bring the inner-artist out in each child.” What a fantastic partner for A Toronto Symphony!!

The workshop is not open to the general public, but we’ll be posting photos as soon as we get ’em!!



Hot off the Press! Bicycle Music Festival Photos

The Toronto Bicycle Music Festival rolled across the city this past weekend. A colorful throng of cycling enthusiasts pedaled their way through Toronto’s streets and parks with a motley assortment of amplifiers, guitar-strumming minstrels and small children in tow. Enjoy these photos by Jennie Green (click to enlarge image). We captured some fantastic sounds! Videos coming soon.

The Bicycle Music Festival hops on board!!

We’re delighted to announce that the Toronto Bicycle Music Festival has joined forces with us to create music and recordings for A Toronto Symphony. Scheduled for September 15 this year, the wonderfully quirky festival enlists dozens of musicians and music-lovers to cycle their way from neighborhood to neighborhood, stopping to so bands can perform at various locations. All the electricity is generated by pedal power!! Check out the video:

You can find out more about the festival here. Performers at this year’s festival will include Snowblink, Gentleman Reg, Lemon Bucket Orkestra and Rae Spoon. We hope you can join the fun and help capture some fresh Sounds of Toronto for us!

How We’ll Use Your Sounds of Toronto

A new message from Tod Machover – 

Over the past few months, you have been collecting sounds from all over Toronto, and now we’re nearing the time for me to explain how these sounds will form the concerto.

So far, I’ve thought of a couple of ways to incorporate these sounds into the final piece.  First, it’s possible that the sounds you recorded and sent in will be directly incorporated into the piece.  However, this has been done before, such as by the revolutionary composer John Cage.  What will be more common for this project and also a much newer musical idea is the practice of taking these sounds and playing them with traditional instruments found in the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.  By breaking down the sounds and interpreting them musically together, we’ll be able to closely relate these urban sounds in a much more classical way.

I experimented with this before while composing another opera of mine, “Skellig”, but accomplishing this transformation of sounds on this scale will require quite a lot of playing around with music and reflecting on what does and does not work.  This is where you come in, as your help in listening to and tweaking these interpretations will be necessary in order to attain the most accurate reflections of the city.  I can’t wait to move forward on the project with you and bring these collections of sounds to life.

Yours, Tod

Click here to listen to excerpts from the opera “Skellig.”

Join us at the ALL CAPS! Island Festival August 11-12

Tod will be attending the  ALL CAPS! Island Festival on August 11th and 12th, a festival of Indie music.  We have several fun activities planned for Sunday the 12th, and we hope to see you at the festival so you can be a part of this next step.  First, any interested members of the audience or performers will come together to listen to a select few of the submitted Toronto sounds and then begin to reflect these sounds in actual music.  Tod will be working with this group to give suggestions, and they will work to get as close as possible to those sounds using instruments in both traditional and non-traditional ways.  During this time, the bands will also have a unique opportunity to join in on the project.  By setting up a recording studio at the festival, we will be able to collect the one chord, sound, or short phrase that represents each individual band.  The idea here is similar to with the sounds in that we hope these clips will be instantly recognizable to any of each bands’ fans.  This should be a great weekend to begin to both listen to Toronto music and to take the next steps of the project together; we hope to see you there!

For more information about “A Toronto Symphony: Concerto for Composer and City,” visit http://toronto.media.mit.edu/

For more information about the ALL CAPS! festival, visit http://wavelengthtoronto.com/show/2012/06/all-caps-island-festival-2012

Play with “Launch Music”!

So I hope you’ve had a chance to take a look at the first bit of music I made with the Toronto Symphony musicians. Now it’s your turn, to see what your reaction is to the Launch Music and maybe to see if you want to add something to it. You can look at the chords, play them on the piano, look at the video, you can hear the chords, you can hear the full piece. It’s a combination of my chords, what the musicians wrote in response to my chords, and then some improvisation we did back and forth. You can look at the score, and it would be great to hear any comments.

This music might be what A Toronto Symphony actually feels like. It might start with these chords and with this shape. So I’d love to hear if you think this feels like the beginning of a symphony, or if we might change it in some way. And I would definitely love it if you would send chords that you like that maybe my chords suggest to you, you might want to add chords to my chords, you might even want to take the audio recording of the chords or the music we made and jam on top of them. You can sing on top of it, you can play instruments on top of it, or you can use it to write out music that might go along with it.

So that’s my challenge to you now. Here’s this Launch Music. Tell me what you think of it, change it, add something to it, and let’s start working together to shape the opening of this piece based on this music. Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Harmonically yours,

UPDATE: Here at last is the edited video from the ideacity 2012 presentation, with a performance of the Launch Music exercise by members of the Toronto Symphony:

“Launch Music” for A Toronto Symphony (Part 2)

Continued from Part 1…

With chords in hand, I contacted Jeff Beecher, bass player in the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and co-chair of the musician’s committee, to see if he and some of his colleagues would be interested in working with this initial chord progression for our first collaboration. Jeff was willing, found eight other players who also wanted to participate (2 violins, viola, cello, Jeff on bass, bassoon, french horn and clarinet), and we were off.

Tod and TSO players at ideacity

I sent them the chord progression and asked if they would augment and modify what I had written, by adding new chords, writing melodies to my chords, and/or proposing sounds suggested by my chords. All eight of them got back to me within a few days with a wealth of remarkable music including quirky melodies, jaunty and sometimes jagged rhythms, and some quite unusual sounds. It was a very pleasant surprise that they responded, and even a better surprise that what they send back was so interesting and so unexpected. Continue reading