Orchestra Tech:
The Orchestra Technology Initiative

Tod Machover, Music Technology Advisor

Tod Machover was recently called "America's most wired composer" by the Los Angeles Times. He is recognized for music that boldly breaks traditional artistic and cultural boundaries, offering a unique and innovative synthesis of acoustic and electronic sound, of symphony orchestras and interactive computers, of operatic arias and rock songs, and consistently delivering serious and powerful messages in an accessible and immediate way. As Pulitzer Prize-winning music critic Lloyd Schwartz has written: "What's most exciting about Machover's pieces in general is how beautiful and moving they are, what lyrical and exotic melismas keep surfacing (and how scintillatingly they contrast with the shattering electronic textures), how dramatically they build, how they haven't a dull moment, and what magnificent opportunities for performers they provide."

After receiving degrees from the Juilliard School in New York where he studied with Elliott Carter and Roger Sessions, Machover was Director of Musical Research at Pierre Boulez's IRCAM institute in Paris (1978-85). Since 1985, he has been Professor of Music & Media, Head of the Opera of the Future/Hyperinstruments Group, and, since 1995, Co-Director of the Things That Think (TTT) and Toys of Tomorrow (TOT) consortia at M.I.T.'s Media Lab. He has recently been named Director of the Media Lab's new Center for Future Arts, and is also a Co-Director of MediaLabEurope which will open in May 2000 in Dublin.. Machover's music has been performed and commissioned by many of the world's most important performers and ensembles, including San Francisco Symphony, the Tokyo and Kronos String Quartets, IRCAM, the London Sinfonietta, Ensemble Modern, the Ensemble InterContemporain, and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. He has received many international prizes including Friedheim, Koussevitsky, Fromm, and NEA awards. In 1995, he was named a "Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres" by the French Culture Ministry, and in 1998 he was the first reciptient of the Digiglobe Award from the German government.

Machover has composed five operas in quite diverse forms, from the science fiction VALIS, commissioned for the 10th anniversary of Paris' Centre Pompidou, to the walk-through Meteorite, permanently installed in Essen, Germany since June 1998, to his latest, Resurrection, blending traditional operatic forces with state-of-the-art electronics, which premiered in Spring 1999 at the Houston Grand Opera. In addition to his work as a composer, Machover is widely noted as a designer of new technology for music. He is the inventor of hyperinstruments, which use smart computers to augment musicality, virtuosity, and creativity. Performers as diverse as Yo-Yo Ma, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Prince and Peter Gabriel have used these hyperinstruments. Since 1991, Machover has adapted his hyperinstruments for use by musical amateurs, students, and children, culminating in his Brain Opera, which invites the public to participate in each performance, live or via the Internet. The Brain Opera premiered at the 1996 Lincoln Center Festival, before touring through North and South America, Europe, and Asia. The definitive version of the Brain Opera - with the additional "Future Music Blender" - was permanently installed in June 2000 in Vienna, Austria, at the new "House of Music".

On the horizon for Machover are a piano trio commissioned for First Night Boston; a new opera, Twelve Looney Tones: Schoenberg in Hollywood, which explores the relationship between high and pop culture; a new a capella vocal work for the Chanticleer ensemble; and an operatic extravaganza of "sounds, shapes, motions and emotions" for the Opéra de Monte-Carlo. One of Machover's major endeavors over the next three years is the Toy Symphony, which will develop and employ new concepts and technologies for introducing musical creativity and expression to children, in collaboration with symphony orchestras and major soloists around the world. A synthesis of music and technology, professionals and amateurs, education and improvisation, Toy Symphony will bring together Tod Machover's varied concerns in a powerful realization of his complex vision.

American Composers Orchestra will premiere Machover's Sparkler in October 2001. Mr. Machover currently serves as Music Technology Advisor to ACO, overseeing the multi-year Orchestra Technology Initiative.

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