Live Jazz Fills City by the Bay

San Francisco Jazz Festival Founder and Executive Director, Randall KlinePhoto courtesy of SFJAZ At the end of the month, SFJAZZ kicks off its 19th annual San Francisco Jazz Festival, presenting a range of live performances from classic jazz to the avant-garde, tributes to legendary artists, and premiere performances of specially commissioned works. The festival performances […]

Can orchestral music and electronic sound comfortably coexist? Laurie Spiegel, composer

Laurie SpiegelPhoto by Joel Chadabe, courtesy Laurie Spiegel Certainly the two media coexist extremely well, because they are complementary in many aspects of compositional process, realized result, socio-economics of availability, presentation venue, etc. If you have an orchestra, why would you need electronic sound sources? To do whatever an orchestra can’t, because by now they […]

View From the East: Music in a Time of War

Greg Sandow In the wake of our disaster, I want to ask why music moves us so much. “Music is the nutrition of the soul,” I heard Zarin Mehta say about a week after the events as he introduced a memorial performance of the Brahms Requiem by the New York Philharmonic. “Music is the soul […]

Stars, Stripes, Batons and Circuits: American Music For Orchestra and Electronics

Elliott SchwartzPhoto courtesy Ohio State Universi The launch of the American Symphony Orchestra’s “Orchestra Tech” Initiative this October seems an appropriate occasion to survey the history of American music for orchestra and electronics. Before beginning, however, we need to define our terms and set boundaries. Specifically, three words–“American,” “electronic” and “orchestra”–can be, and have been, […]

The New Sound Machines


Whether it is the bleeping, crunchy, ethereal sounds created using computers, traditional instruments being stretched to create exciting new harmonics, or simply the ability to hear music from distant parts of the world, contemporary composers and listeners alike have made extensive use of these new sound “machines” to expand our aural capacity.

Bringing the Orchestra into the 21st Century

Frank J. OteriPhoto by Melissa Richard For years, I’ve entertained a fetish for being in spaces that took me away from the present day: walking through ancient ruins like Macchu Picchu in Peru or Volubilis in Morocco, sleeping in Colonial B&Bs in the Northeast or Antebellum homes in the Deep South, or even drinking in […]

Can orchestral music and electronic sound comfortably coexist?

Laurie Spiegel“The few times I’ve tried to combine the two media, I have not personally found any aesthetic benefits…” Alvin Lucier“Often the sounds of one seem to grow out of the other, causing a confusion of identities which creates intense listening moments for the audience…” Joshua Cohen“This process of compositional inquiry and the integrity implicit […]

Orchestra Tech: Introducing Technology into the Orchestra

Ray Kurzweil, Gil Rose, and Tod Machover Ray Kurzweil, Gil Rose, and Tod Machover September 24, 2001 Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA Moderated and Videotaped by Frank J. Oteri Transcribed by Amanda MacBlane What is an Orchestra? Why Introduce Technology into the Orchestra? Convincing Audiences and Administrators The Repertoire and the Venue Standardization and […]