DSO & Tod Machover to Create Collaborative Symphony Inspired by Detroit

DSO & Tod Machover to Create Collaborative Symphony Inspired by Detroit

What does Detroit sound like? The Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) and composer Tod Machover will ask every Detroiter that question in the coming year as they work with the community to create a collaborative symphony with sound submissions and conceptual contributions from the public. The work, entitled Symphony in D, will premiere at Orchestra Hall on Nov. 16, 2015. The project is made possible by a $315,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The DSO is the first American orchestra to work with Machover on a collaborative symphony - Machover has completed similar projects in Toronto; Edinburgh, Scotland; Perth, Australia, and is currently working on one for the Lucerne Festival 2015, where he will be Composer-in-Residence.

Residents may start making submissions today. Instruction on how to submit and additional information is available at dso.org/SymphonyInD.

Knight Foundation's vice president for arts heard Machover's symphony in Scotland, and immediately wanted to bring his work to Detroit. The DSO's track record in community engagement and digital innovations via its Webcasts made it the perfect partner for the collaboration.

"The future of Detroit is being shaped by the city's creative community," said Dennis Scholl, vice president of arts for Knight Foundation. "We'd love to see more people get involved, and Symphony in D will be a great vehicle for people to share the sounds that define their 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. Machover, Professor of Music and Media at the Media Lab of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has developed technology that can collect and combine sounds and translate them into music. The snarl of a Mustang's engine? Fair game. The chaotic din of Eastern Market on a Saturday morning? No problem. The DSO wants to discover what Detroit sounds like through its community. The process involves layers, interactions, associations and discoveries which will produce a work representing the heart and soul of Detroit's past, present and future.

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 Symphony in D. The Constellation app, used in previous iterations of the City-Symphony series, is a web-based app that allows anyone to hear the latest sounds collected and to combine them into personalized mixes. Yet another equally significant mobile app in development will be designed especially for the Symphony in D project and will allow any sound to be recorded and then geographically "tagged" via mobile device, creating an evolving "sound map" of Detroit and surroundings. This mobile app will be available through the Apple App Store and Google Play in early 2015.

As part of the project's community outreach program and educational workshops, another computer software program developed by Machover and his team, Hyperscore, will allow young people to compose their own musical portraits of Detroit by drawing with lines and colors that Machover can then translate into orchestral impressions. Hyperscore is available for download via hyperscore.com.

"The concept of utilizing the sounds of our city, both those found and those submitted by others and then incorporating them into an orchestral work is quite amazing," said DSO Music Director Leonard Slatkin. "It will be interesting to see what sounds the people of Detroit will submit and what Tod will choose and how the piece will unfold. Clearly this is a project of unique interest to all those interested in the power of collaborative thinking."

During the year leading up to the premiere, Machover will visit schools and community centers throughout Detroit to hold workshops and engage the community. This symphony is called a collaboration for a reason: it will bring together the community by exploring the city's unique sounds and to simply celebrate living in Detroit.

"Detroit is a city filled with bold and contrasting sounds, from the roar and purr of cars, to the crackle and snap of Motown, to the gentle rhythms of urban gardening," said Machover. "I look forward to working with Detroiters from all backgrounds to create a collective musical portrait of this exciting moment in the city's history, when everything is being rethought and anything is possible."