A DVD of Dallas Opera’s highly successful 2014 production of Tod Machover’s robotic opera, Death and the Powers, is available beginning April 22 through the MIT Media Lab

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Opera DVD Release, Limited Ed.
Death and The Powers

World Premiere of De L’Expérience
commissioned by the Montréal Symphony

2015 Composer in Residence at Lucerne Festival In Summer
Eine Sinfonie für Luzern
Follow its Journey

US Premiere of Symphony in D
to capture the story of Detroit through sound

2015 Highlights


A DVD of Dallas Opera’s highly successful 2014 production of Tod Machover’s robotic opera, Death and the Powers, is available beginning April 22 through the MIT Media Lab. Only a limited number of copies are on sale and can be purchased at CD Baby here.

Death and the Powers received its world premiere September 24, 2010 at L’Opéra de Monte-Carlo – Salle Garnier. In addition to the Dallas Opera production, Machover’s opera has been performed at Chicago Opera Theater and at Boston’s Majestic Theater, a joint production with Harvard’s American Repertory Theater and the MIT Media Lab.  The work was named a 2012 Pulitzer Prize Finalist in Music for both its score and the innovative technology created by Machover and his Opera of the Future Group at the MIT Media Lab.

“Death and the Powers doesn’t point the way to a new era of opera. It’s there. Now.” Philadelphia Inquirer
“Passionate intensity. Full-bodied arias in a post-organic world.” Wall Street Journal

DE L’EXPERIENCE: Premiere at Montréal Symphony

Tod Machover’s latest work, De L’Expérience, for narrator, organ and electronics will premiere on May 16 at the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal (OSM), which commissioned the piece. With text from the Essais by Michel de Montaigne – the  16th century French philosopher who invented the essay form as a way to uncover the secrets of the universe by analyzing every detail of one subject only, himself – the composition entwines words and music to create a journey of discovery.

Created especially for the OSM’s newly installed, critically acclaimed Pierre Béique Organ and for OSM organist Jean-Willy Kunz, the premiere will feature celebrated Québequois actor Gilles Renaud in the role of Montaigne. Interactive electronics designed at the MIT Media Lab – in collaboration with McGill University’s CIRMMT institute – allow the organ’s presence to envelop the hall, prolonging and transforming resonances while merging acoustic and electronic sound so they cross-fertilize in unexpected and provocative ways.


Since the announcement that Tod Machover, composer, inventor and MIT Media Lab Professor has been named the 2015 Composer in Residence at Lucerne Festival In Summer, he has been hard at work collecting city sounds, providing workshops for – and conversations with – residents of the city and pulling all the elements into a compelling musical narrative for the premiere of Eine Sinfonie für Luzern. As he has done for the cities of Perth, Edinburgh and Toronto, Machover is developing a collaborative symphony for the city of Lucerne to capture its life, spirit and culture in music. This musical portrait of Lucerne receives its world premiere September 5, 2015, with the Lucerne Festival Academy Orchestra conducted by Matthias Pintscher.

The process of creating this collaborative symphony for Lucerne is just as significant as the final creation. Machover describes Lucerne as “a kind of oasis, a quiet, almost-perfect city where the most delicate sounds – water lapping on the lakeshore, footsteps reverberating in covered wooden bridges, birds whispering rather than shouting, music from orchestras, traveling choirs, buskers and boom boxes all intertwining – are unburdened by traffic or crowd noise, creating a kind of idealized chamber music. In addition, Lucerne has a unique position at the center of Switzerland, and has always been a place of refuge, tolerance, and reflection. Hopefully these qualities will be reflected in our finished symphony.”

Explore the development of this collaborative symphony with Tod Machover in a series of development diaries below
as well as the Lucerne Festival’s own Blog here:

As part of this prestigious residency, Machover has been commissioned by Lucerne Festival for additional projects and compositions for the Lucerne Festival Academy and for a Lucerne Festival Young Performance:

He experiments with electronically enhanced “hyperinstruments,” in his lauded, full-evening work Hyperstring Trilogy in which three pieces, Begin Again Again… for Hypercello Solo (1991), Song of Penance for Hyperviola, Computer Voice, and 17 Instruments (1992) and Forever and Ever for Hyperviolin and Chamber Orchestra (1993) are based on the drama and psychological depth of Dante’s Divine Comedy. The trilogy explores loss and gain, pain and recovery, despair and hope and, in passing, what is lost and gained by technology. Machover is currently developing a new generation of hyperinstruments monitored by smartphones for this rendition and experience of Hyperstring Trilogy.

Pierre Boulez who founded the Lucerne Festival Academy in 2003 – will be fêted by the Festival with a major celebration for his 90th birthday on August 23. Machover, who closely collaborated with Boulez as the first Director of Musical Research at IRCAM in Paris, has been commissioned to compose Re-Structures for Two Pianos and Live Electronics, a kind of reconfiguration of Boulez’s seminal compositions that pays homage to the profound influence Boulez has had on contemporary classical music today, while juxtaposing the strict structure and romantic wildness that Machover finds intertwined in Boulez’s work. Machover’s work will be one among eight world premieres presented on A Day for Boulez.

 “Fensadense,” Machover’s new work for Lucerne Festival’s Young Performance series, is an energetic and virtuosic tour-de-force for 10 performers who all play the latest generation of Machover’s Hyperinstruments. Sounds and gestures are measured – using special sensors worn on each arm and an iPad watching and listening to each player – and their communication and connection is measured as well. The interplay of rhythm, timbre and articulation enhanced through this new technology creates a result that is more than the sum of  its parts, enabling the players to become a new kind of Hyperensemble. The music draws on Machover’s interest in classical forms and avant-garde experimentalism, jazz improvisation and rock rhythms, and the three great Bs – Bach, Berio, and The Beatles.

Schedule of events:

Sunday, August 23, 5:00 PM| KKL Luzern, Luzerner Saal
Part of A Day for Pierre Boulez
Ensemble intercontemporain | Students of the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ACADEMY | Matthias Pintscher conductor

Re-Structures for Two Pianos and Live Electronics (World premiere) Commissioned by LUCERNE FESTIVAL

Hyperstring Trilogy
Saturday, August 29, 10:00 PM| KKL Luzern, Luzerner Saal
LUCERNE FESTIVAL ACADEMY Ensemble | Ben Bloomberg sound design

Hyperstring Trilogy
Begin Again Again … for Solo Hypercello | Song of Penance for Hyperviola, Computer Voice, and 17 Instruments | Forever and Ever for Hyperviolin and Chamber Orchestra

Eine Sinfonie für Luzern
Saturday, September 5, 11:00 AM| KKL Luzern, Concert Hall
LUCERNE FESTIVAL ACADEMY Orchestra | Matthias Pintscher conductor

A Symphony for Lucerne (World premiere)| commissioned by LUCERNE FESTIVAL

Saturday, September 12, 10:00 PM| KKL Luzern, Luzerner Saal
LUCERNE FESTIVAL Young Performance | Shila Anaraki stage director

Fensadense for Hyperinstruments and Interactive Electronics | commissioned by LUCERNE FESTIVAL

Technology update for Lucerne:

There are a number of ways to get involved in shaping Eine Sinfonie für Luzern. Anyone can upload sounds of the city by simply going to the official website and following the portal’s instructions. Machover and his Opera of the Future team at the MIT Media Lab specially developed a smartphone app entitled Hear Lucerne that runs on all iOS and Android devices and enables the user to record, upload, describe and share favorite sounds heard around the city of Lucerne.

The team at the MIT Media Lab is constantly updating Lucerne’s Constellation app, a web-based application that allows anyone to hear the latest sounds collected and to combine them into personalized mixes. In addition, the MIT Media Lab has also launched a Water app  designed to allow any user to experiment with the many different sounds of water – from lakes and rivers to fountains and waterfalls – that are so pervasive in Lucerne and that – according to Machover – “help give the city its calm continuity”.


The fifth installment of Tod Machover’s innovative City Symphonies series – and the first in the U.S. – finds its home in the city of Detroit. Machover and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) are working with the Detroit community to create a collaborative symphony with sound submissions and conceptual contributions from – and diverse collaborations with – the public. The work, entitled Symphony in D, will premiere at Orchestra Hall on Nov. 20 and 21, 2015. The project is made possible through substantial support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Instructions on how to submit and additional information is available here.
Machover and the MIT Media Lab blog about Symphony in D’s development here.

Since Symphony in D launched in November 2014, Machover has been engaging the community in all kinds of ways, working with preschools and senior centers, collecting sounds from factories and ballparks, and jamming with musicians with backgrounds from Motown to baroque, indie rock to electronica, hip-hop to Haydn.
This symphony is called a collaboration for a reason: it will bring together Detroit’s residents by exploring the city’s unique sounds and by simply celebrating Detroit’s past, present and future.

“So many people are interested in Detroit now, because it’s a city that can reinvent itself,” Machover said. “If we succeed — we manage to have a lot of people participate and it’s woven together into a piece that feels like Detroit now  — then the community has hopefully something that marks this particular moment and might also be timeless.” There has been an amazing response from the Detroit public and local media supporting the development of the Symphony as the community comes together to participate in its sonic portrait.

See Machover discuss his current exploration of the sounds of Detroit
and how to upload sounds and contribute to the project here.

Technology for Detroit

In order to create a musical portrait of the Motor City, the symphony for Detroit will evolve through electronic sound submissions, workshops and discussions throughout the city, original sonic creation, and back-and-forth musical sharing and shaping with Detroit residents and community institutions.

Special technologies developed by Machover and his Opera of the Future team at the MIT Media Lab will allow people of all ages to contribute to and help shape A Symphony in D. The mobile app, Symphony in D, is available for free download now in the Apple Store and on Google Play. App users will be able to upload sounds, either recorded through the mobile app directly or with existing sounds. Users may also listen to sounds submitted by others, which are geo-tagged on an evolving “sound map” of Detroit, pinpointing where each sound was recorded.

The Constellation app, designed by Media Lab graduate student Akito van Troyer, is a web-based app that allows anyone to hear the latest sounds collected and to combine them into personalized mixes. Constellation enables the user to explore and compose their own piece of music arranging some of the first sounds that Tod Machover, his Media Lab colleagues, RingSide Creative and the people of Detroit have collected for Symphony in D.

A separate computer software program, Hyperscore, allows young people to compose their own musical portraits of Detroit by drawing and painting with lines and colors which Machover can then translate into orchestral impressions. Hyperscore is available for download via www.hyperscore.com.

2015 Highlights

Flute Concerto, Breathless

Tod Machover’s concerto for flute, orchestra and electronicsBreathless, commissioned by the Bemidji Symphony Orchestra, is available now to stream on Soundcloud. The World Premiere took place Sunday, November 9, 2014 performed by Carol Wincenc and conducted by Beverly Everett.

Carol Wincenc recounts her own experience with the piece and how “the electronic component was one of the completely magical aspects of the grandiosity of the work. Machover’s demand for perfection and precise awareness of the flute resulted in a work that is wildly dramatic, thrilling and mysterious all at once.”

Machover describes how “Breathless recalls some of the experimental music – classical and pop – that I was interested in as a 16-year old. The solo flute leads us on quite a journey – with pure tone, breathiness of all sorts, electronic extensions and orchestral commentary – through musical memory and possibility.”

World Economic Forum – Arts & Culture

At the end of January, Tod Machover presented the Closing Performance at the prestigious World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. With spectacular super-widescreen visuals by the London-based Artisan group and by the MIT Media Lab, he premiered A Symphony for our Times, celebrating the spirit of dialogue and collective responsibility. The presentation took parts of Machover’s City Symphony projects and molded them together to form an overall perspective on how collaborative symphonies can bring communities together, locally and throughout the world.

Vocal Vibrations Installation – Music Now Available

Vocal Vibrations, an interactive sound installation by Tod Machover and his team at the MIT Media Lab, is a voice and body experiment examining the relationship between human physiology and resonant vibrations of the voice. While the exhibit is no longer on display at Le Laboratoire Cambridge, a smaller format version – with an additional scent component – will be on display at that venue starting in May. In addition, the music for Vocal Vibrations is now available and can be downloaded at Bowers & Wilkins, in both stereo and audiophile surround sound versions.

In this musical installation, you enter into an area called the Chapel, and listen to a vocal composition by Machover piped through 10 speakers. It sounds like contemporary sacred music, layered and haunting. Guides in the installation will encourage you to put headphones on and sing — nothing fancy, just a note, and quietly to yourself, if you like.

From there, you proceed through a spiraling hallway veiled in white translucent fabric to the Cocoon. It’s a more private area, where only one person, relaxed in a recliner and equipped with headphones and a microphone, can sing along with a second, similar Machover piece, and “listen” to one’s voice pulsing through the oRb: a handheld device that converts the voice into vibration that can be felt.

“Less an art installation than a means of self-reflection through sound, Vocal Vibrations aims to help visitors heighten perceptions of vibration in their bodies.” Boston Globe
“This latest project…aims to present sound in an unconventional way, forcing listeners to pay attention and remember the power that music can have…to reestablish people’s relationships with their own voices.” Huntington News

For more information on the Vocal Vibrations exhibit or to learn more about the project, click here


Tod Machover, called “America’s most wired composer” by The Los Angeles Times, is recognized as one of the most innovative composers of his generation, and celebrated for inventing new technologies for music. Machover studied with Elliott Carter and Roger Sessions at The Juilliard School and was the first Director of Musical Research at Pierre Boulez’s IRCAM in Paris. He is the Muriel R. Cooper Professor of Music and Media at the MIT Media Lab (Cambridge USA) and Director of its Opera of the Future Group. Machover is also Visiting Professor of Composition at the Royal Academy of Music in London.

Machover is especially known for his visionary operas, including VALIS (based on Philip K. Dick’s sci-fi classic and commissioned by the Centre Pompidou in Paris); Brain Opera (which invites the audience to collaborate live and online); Skellig (based on David Almond’s award-winning novel and premiered at the Sage Gateshead in 2008); and the “robotic” Death and the Powers which premiered in Monaco during the 2010/2011 season (at the Opéra de Monte-Carlo under the patronage of Prince Albert II), and has since been performed in Boston, Chicago, and at The Dallas Opera, where – in February 2014 – it received the world’s first international, interactive simulcast. Death and the Powers was also Finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Music.

On March 1, 2014, the Perth International Arts Festival premiered Machover’s Between the Desert and the Deep Blue Sea: A Symphony for Perth as the festival finale. The third (after Toronto and Edinburgh) in a growing series of “collaborative city symphonies,” Machover invited people of all ages and backgrounds to work with him – using specially designed online tools – to create a musical portrait of the place where they live. New collaborative symphonies are being created for and with Lucerne, Switzerland and Detroit, and are being discussed with various other international locations.

Tod Machover’s compositions have been commissioned and performed by many of the world’s most prestigious ensembles and soloists, including Opera America, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble InterContemporain, Ensemble Modern, BBC Scottish Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Boston Pops, Houston Grand Opera, Bunkamura (Tokyo), Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Carnegie Hall, Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin, Ars Electronica, Casa da Musica (Porto), American Composers Orchestra, Tokyo String Quartet, Kronos Quartet, Ying Quartet, Yo-Yo Ma, Joshua Bell, Kim Kashkashian, Matt Haimovitz, and many more. His work has been awarded numerous prizes and honors, among others from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Fromm and Koussevitzky Foundations, the National Endowment for the Arts, the German Culture Ministry, and the French Culture Ministry, which named him a Chevalier de l’Order des Arts et des Lettres. In 2010 he received the Arts Prize from the World Technology Network (CNN/Time Inc.), and the Raymond Kurzweil Prize for Music and Technology. He was the first recipient of the Arts Advocacy Award from the Kennedy Center’s National Committee of the Performing Arts in September 2013.

Tod Machover is renowned for designing new technologies for music performance and creation, such as Hyperinstruments, “smart” performance systems that extend expression for virtuosi, from Yo-Yo Ma to Prince, as well as for the general public. The popular videogames Guitar Hero and Rock Band grew out of Machover’s Lab. His Hyperscore software—which allows anyone to compose original music using lines and colors—has enabled children around the world to have their music performed by major orchestras, chamber music ensembles, and rock bands.

Tod Machover’s music is published by Boosey & Hawkes and Ricordi Editions, and has been recorded on the Bridge, Oxingale, Erato, Albany and New World labels. Much of his music is also available via iTunes.

The MIT Media Lab’s Opera of the Future Group has been documenting some of the amazing sounds and experiences that Machover has found through visiting Lucerne and Detroit, and collaborating with their residents. To visit their blog click here.

Symphony in D; Courtesy of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Detroit by Air; Credit – Alex S. Maclean
I Hear Lucerne; Courtesy of the Lucerne Festival

Kirshbaum Demler & Associates

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