Toronto launches city-wide symphony project

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Call-out for submissions to a collaborative composition

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The Toronto Symphony Orchestra has launched a project to create a symphony which sums up the city.

The orchestra is working with composer Tod Machover, who came up with the idea of composing a piece to serve as a musical portrait of the city, with himself and the city’s people working together as composers.

Machover works for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in its Media Laboratory, researching new ways of improving the ability of non-musicians to compose music.

The project, ‘A Toronto Symphony’, launched in June and is an attempt to create a musical picture of Toronto.

Speaking on a video on the Toronto Symphony Orchestra website, Machover said: ‘Toronto is one of the most international cities in the world, it has every idea, every kind of person, every nationality, every sound that you can imagine. One thing that’s always struck me about Toronto is how it combines this complexity with an incredibly sense of order and beauty.’

Toronto citizens access Machover’s ‘hyperscore’ songwriting program and can contribute by creating melodies on top of Machover’s thematic ‘backbone’.

Hyperscore uses lines and colours instead of standard musical notation to express musical ideas, which allows people of all musical backgrounds to compose in a single format. People can also contact him with sounds of city-life, such as wind in the trees or a truck motor, and include these in the music.

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra will perform the piece on 9 March 2013.

Jack Flanagan