Detroit Symphony invites local residents to create a “Symphony” for their city

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) and composer Tod Machover are collaborating with many of that city’s residents on a very exciting new project that aims to convey the unique “sound” of the city of Detroit. Ordinary Detroit citizens are creating and collecting sounds that will become part of the “Symphony in D” which will premiere at Detroit’s Orchestra Hall this coming November. The project has been financed by a $315,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

While Machover has engaged in similar collaborative projects in Toronto, Edinburgh, Scotland, and Perth, Australia, this is his first such effort in the United States. Detroit Symphony in Dresidents and community institutions have already begun submitting their musical contributions as well as engaging in workshops and discussions throughout the city. Machover, Professor of Music and Media at the Media Lab of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has developed technologies that can collect all of these various sounds – for example the sound of a motor vehicle engine or of people gathered in a popular public market – and transform them into music. Especially prominent among them is the “Constellation app”, a web-based application that allows anyone to hear the latest sounds collected and to combine them into their own desired mix.

In Machover’s word’s “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…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.”

More information regarding this bold initiative can be found on the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s website:  http://www.dso.org/symphonyind

This process should be very interesting to observe in the year ahead and – if you live in Detroit – to actually participate in! Perhaps it will also inspire similar efforts by other performing arts institutions in other parts of the United States to engage with their own local communities and re-engage a broader public.

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