REDCAT Presents the debut of the KarmetiK Machine Orchestra at SCREAM Festival

By: Jan. 05, 2010

REDCAT and the Southern California Resource for Electro-Acoustic Music co-present this year's SCREAM Festival. Featuring the debut of the KarmetiK Machine Orchestra, SCREAM Festival takes place on January 27, 2010 at 8:30 pm.

Global music forms meet the digital surge of the 21st century as the KarmetiK Machine Orchestra, directed by Ajay Kapur, convenes an international lineup of musicmakers, engineers and digital artists who use custom-built robotic instruments and new and expressive interfaces in live music performance. This one-of-a-kind performance features new compositions melding musical tradition with modern engineering.

The KarmetiK Machine Orchestra features appearances by North Indian sarodist Ustad Aashish Khan, electronic artist Curtis Bahn, Balinese gamelan master I Nyoman Wenten, vocal synthesizer Perry Cook, and innovators from the CalArts Music Technology Program, with a theatrical set designed by Michael Darling.

A key success to this project has been the teaming of sculptor and technical designer, Michael Darling with engineer and robot designer, Ajay Kapur. At California Institute of the Arts, they teach a course, "Robotic Design for Music and Media," in which students learn to turn scrap parts found at the junkyard into moving recycled pieces of mechanized mayhem.

As part of this course, CalArts Music Technology students Meason Wiley, Owen Vallis, Carl Burgin, Jordan Hochenbaum, and Dimitri Diakopoulos have helped shape the KarmetiK Machine Orchestra from the beginning as part of their arts education. Each student has been involved in building his own software, constructing his own digital instrument, and helping compose and perform new pieces for the Machine Orchestra. Joining forces, the team created five robotic instruments for the concert through pedagogical means.

SCREAM Festival is funded in part through a Durfee Foundation Artists' Resource for the Completion Grant and Subito, the quick advancement grant program of the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the American Composers Forum.

For additional information about the performance at REDCAT, images, media and interviews, please contact Diana Wyenn at 213-237-2873 or


For a preview, view Man vs. Machine: Duet for ESitar and Robotics:

KarmetiK's official website:

Ajay Kapur's official website:


KarmetiK is a think tank of artists and engineers exploring a digital renaissance, seeking to question and redefine the boundaries between music, the visual arts, and technology. KarmetiK hosts a collection of hardware and software researchers interested in combining recent advancements in robotics, human computer interaction, artificial intelligence, and embedded computing to create novel products and new works of digital art. Originally a company focused on the musical arts, KarmetiK continues in this vein by releasing and promoting new music by artists who seek to create and use the latest in sonic technology for composition and performance.

Embracing the age of human computer interactivity, Ajay Kapur blends classical Indian music theory with a modern electronic and experimental groove. Ajay's custom electronics are used to bring melody, harmony, dance and tribal beats into the 21st century.

Ajay's work revolves around one question: "How do you make a computer improvise with a human?" Using the rules set forth by Indian classical tradition, Ajay has striven to build new interfaces for musical expression by modifying the classical tabla, dholak and sitar with added microchips and sensor systems, while designing and building robotic musical instruments that can be programmed to perform along with any human performer.

Ajay Kapur is currently the director of Music Technology at the California Institute of the Arts. He is also a Lecturer of Sonic Arts at the New Zealand School of Music at Victoria University of Wellington. He received an Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in 2007 from University of Victoria combining computer science, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, music and psychology with a focus on intelligent music and media technology. Ajay graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering and Computer Science from Princeton University in 2002. He has been educated by music technology leaders including Dr. Perry R. Cook, Dr. George Tzanetakis, and Dr. Andrew Schloss, combined with mentorship from robotic musical instrument sculptors Eric Singer and the world famous Trimpin. A musician at heart, trained on drumset, tabla, sitar and other percussion instruments from around the world, Ajay strives to push technological barriers in order to explore new sounds, rhythms and melodies.


Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT)
Opened by CalArts in 2003, REDCAT introduces diverse audiences, students and artists to the most influential developments in the arts from around the world, and gives artists in this region the creative support they need to achieve national and international stature. REDCAT is the newest partner in an international network of adventurous art and performance centers, which together are playing a vital role in the evolution of contemporary culture. REDCAT is a center for experimentation, discovery and lively civic discourse. For more information, visit




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