Séances and Telepresence Coming Soon to a Concert Hall Near You

Despite all ethical misgivings, stem cell research and cloning technologies are incessantly advancing. Sometimes this forward-march penetrates some unlikely enclaves that lie well beyond the laboratory. Guess what, looks like the realm of musical performance is next in line to wrestle with the moral dilemmas surrounding scientific advancement in overdrive. Sure, all areas of the music industry have grappled with the impact of recording technologies and file sharing, but the ramifications of “is it live, or is it Memorex?” are about to be stepped up big time.

On May 19th concertgoers in Raleigh, North Carolina will be treated to a recital by pianist Mei-Ting Sun featuring some special guests from beyond the grave: Glenn Gould and Alfred Cortot. Brought to you by the Raleigh Chamber Music Guild and the good folks at Zenph StudiosTM—the masterminds behind this first public demonstration—the concert unveils a new evolution in recording technology. Zenph StudiosTM bills itself as one of the world’s most advanced music research facilities, and according to their website they have solved the “holy grail problem in music research…using modern computer techniques, such as those applied to tournament-level chess-playing programs or used to decode the human genome.” Basically, the company’s Software for High-Definition MusicTM claims to decode sound recordings, capturing the original keystrokes and pedal movements—every gestural micropressure intact—down to the millisecond.

Actually, this performance-cloning device sounds really cool. If allowed to fall into the hands of certain creative artists, some beautiful monsters might be unleashed! By the way, it won’t be all tales from the crypt at the BTI Center for the Performing Arts on the 19th. There is some contemporary music on the program: a set of preludes by composer and Mannes College professor Robert Cuckson will also be performed. Wonder if they can get Horowitz to play ‘em?

2 thoughts on “Séances and Telepresence Coming Soon to a Concert Hall Near You

  1. itsudemo

    Great. Living composers have a hard enough time getting performed. Now living performers are in the same boat, too. You know, I don’t need to hear “If Harold Bauer played Ligeti” any more than I need (or the world needs) a new recording of Beethoven’s 5th.

    Reply
  2. Garth Trinkl

    Today, Russia sent its airforce to disperse rainclouds threatening the VE Day (Victory in Europe Day) Celebrations in Red Square, Moscow … Concertgoers in America are treated to a classical music recital featuring special guests from beyond the grave thanks to computer-enhanced sound recordings which capture original piano keystrokes and pedal movements down to the millisecond.

    Randy, composers have been involved in telepresence dating back to the birth of the global humanistic practice of

    shamanism tens of thousands of years ago. More recently, composers such as Schoenberg (A Survivor from Warsaw), Britten (allegorically, in his War Requiem), Shostakovich (

    Symphony #13)

    , Gorecki (Symphony #3), and Henze (Symphony #9) have compositionally practiced telepresence, in association with musical performers, to artistically and humanely bring back to life, for minutes at a time, a few of the 40 million people who died in World War II; which the world is commemorating today, in Europe. [About 27 million of those 40 million were soldiers and civilians from the Former Soviet Union. Both the Associated Press and CNN erroneously reported this weekend, and today, that there were 27 million victims of World War II (the Great Patriotic War as seen from the FSU) from Russia alone].

    *

    Narrator:

    I cannot remember everything. I must have been unconscious most of the time. I remember only the grandiose moment when they all started to sing, as if prearranged, the old prayer they had neglected for so many years – the forgotten creed! But I have no recollection how I got underground to live in the sewers of Warsaw for so long a time.

    The day began as usual: Reveille when it still was dark. Get out! Whether you slept or whether worries kept you awake the whole night. You had been separated from your children, from your wife, from your parents; you don’t know what happened to them – how could you sleep?

    The trumpets again – Get out! The sergeant will be furious! They came out: some very slow: the old ones, the sick ones; some with nervous agility. They fear the sergeant. They hurry as much as they can. In vain! Much too much noise, much too much commotion – and not fast enough! The Feldwebel shouts: “Stand at attention! Hurry up! Or do you want to feel the butt of my gun? Okay, you’ve asked for it!” The sergeant and his subordinates hit everybody: young or old, quiet or nervous, guilty or innocent. It was painful to hear them groaning and moaning. I heard it though I had been hit very hard, so hard that I could not help falling down. We all on the ground who could not stand up were then beaten over the head.

    I must have been unconscious. The next I knew was a soldier saying: “They are all dead,” whereupon the sergeant ordered them to do away with us. There I lay aside – half-conscious. It had become very still – fear and pain. Then I heard the sergeant shouting: “Number off!” They started slowly and irregularly: one, two, three, four – “Stand at attention!” the sergeant shouted again, “Quicker! Start again! In one minute I want to know how many I’m going to deliver to the gas chamber. Number off!” They began again, first slowly: one, two, three, four, became faster and faster, so fast that it finally sounded like a stampede of wild horses, and all of a sudden, in the middle of it, they began singing the Sh’ma Yisrael.

    American Composer Arnold Schoenberg, 1947. The original type-script of his A Survivor from Warsaw is in the

    Music Division of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

    Reply

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