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Bach Festival Society Commissions New Work by Jaron Lanier 10/23-24


The Bach Festival Society of Winter Park in partnership with the Winter Park Institute, Rollins College, has commissioned internationally renowned computer scientist, author, and musician Jaron Lanier to write a new work for choir, orchestra, and vocal soloists. This work, Symphony for Amelia, will have its world premiere on October 23 and 24, 2010. "The Winter Park Institute is very excited about such collaboration, which represents exactly the type of cross-pollination we had imagined between scholars and faculty, students, and the community. We couldn't ask for a better model than this," says Gail Sinclair, Executive Director, Winter Park Institute.

The text of the work comes from 17th-century English poet, Amelia Lanier. Composer Jaron Lanier says, "She was the first published female poet in the English language, significant friend of Shakespeare's, matriarch of one of the great musical lineages-which produced Sidney Lanier and Quincy Jones-and of course I'm virtually related to her in a complicated way."

The piece itself sounds modern, though it has many traditional elements. It begins with a soprano solo that introduces the theme of the piece, and ends with a large choir and orchestra section. Throughout, the rhythms are repetitive, and the choir's voices are treated as part of the orchestra.

About Jaron Lanier
As a musician, Jaron Lanier has been active in the world of new "classical" music since the late 1970s. He is a pianist and a specialist in unusual musical instruments, especially the wind and string instruments of Asia. Lanier has performed with artists as diverse as Philip Glass, Yoko Ono, and Ornette Coleman, among many others. Lanier co-composed the soundtrack to The Third Wave, a documentary released in September 2009 to critical acclaim after winning awards at film festivals around the world. Additionally, he writes chamber and orchestral music. Recent commissions include Little Shimmers for the TroMetrik ensemble, which premiered at ODC in San Francisco in April, 2006; Daredevil for the ArrayMusic chamber ensemble, which premiered in Toronto in 2006; a concert-length sequence of works for orchestra and virtual worlds celebrating the 1000th birthday of the city of Wroclaw, Poland, premiered in 2000; and a triple concerto, The Navigator Tree, commissioned by the National Endowment for the Arts and the American Composers Forum, premiered in 2000.

Lanier's name is often associated with virtual reality research. Indeed, he did coin the term "Virtual Reality" and in the early 1980s founded VPL Research, the first company to sell VR products. While at VPL, he and his colleagues developed the first implementations of virtual reality applications in surgical simulation, vehicle interior prototyping, virtual sets for television production, and assorted other areas.

In 2010 Lanier's book You are Not a Gadget: a Manifesto was published by Alfred A. Knopf, and he was also named in Time Magazine's Top 100 Issue as a top thinker of our time. In 2005 Lanier was selected as one of the top 100 public intellectuals in the world by Prospect and Foreign Policy magazines. The Encyclopedia Britannica includes him in its list of history's 300 or so greatest inventors. The nation of Palau has issued a postage stamp in his honor. Various television documentaries have been produced about him, such as Dreadlocks and Digital Dreamworlds by Tech TV in 2002. The 1992 movie Lawnmower Man was in part based on him and his early laboratory-he was played by Pierce Brosnan. He has appeared on national television many times, on shows such as The News Hour, Nightline, and Charlie Rose, and has been profiled multiple times on the front pages of the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.

About the Bach Festival Society
The Bach Festival Society celebrates its 75th Annual Festival in 2010. Located in Winter Park, Florida, it is one of the longest continuously operating Bach Festivals in the country and among America's great oratorio societies. The Bach Festival Society brings the highest caliber of classical music to Central Florida. Performances are held in the intimate settings of Tiedtke Concert Hall and Knowles Memorial Chapel on the beautiful campus of Rollins College.

For more information regarding the upcoming season or to order tickets, please call the Bach Festival Society at 407.646.2182 or visit us online at

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