Event preview: 'Symphony in D' world premiere this weekend

A limited number of tickets remain to catch this "Symphony in D" spectacle. Get them here
Composer Tod Machover has asked several Detroit artists and community members to join the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) on stage at this weekend’s world premiere of Symphony in D. As key collaborators in the collection and creation of some 15,000 sound files, these special guests will perform original compositions, read poetry and share visions of Detroit’s past and future. The premiere will take place Friday, Nov. 20 at 10:45 a.m. and Saturday, Nov. 21 at 8 p.m. 

While space is limited for Saturday’s performance, the concert will be “MaxCast” on the south wall of Orchestra Hall for free viewing. A warming tent, s’mores station and more will be available on Parsons Street to round out the experience.

Led by Music Director Leonard Slatkin, Symphony in D is featured on a program with Principal Cello Wei Yu’s solo debut of Dvořák’s Cello Concerto.

The Saturday performance will be webcast worldwide via the DSO’s free Live From Orchestra Hall series. Audience members can log on to dso.org/live on your desktop or mobile device to view the concert.

Special technologies developed by Machover and his Opera of the Future team at the MIT Media Lab allowed Detroiters of all ages to contribute to and help shape Symphony in D. The Symphony in D app, developed especially for this project, presented a streamlined conduit for participants to record and then geographically “tag” via mobile device. The submissions created an evolving “sound map” of Detroit and surroundings, which Machover used extensively in creating his new work.

The full schedule is as follows:

PERFORMANCE: "Symphony in D"
Leonard Slatkin, conductor
Wei Yu, cello
Fri. Nov. 20 at 10:45 a.m.
Sat., Nov. 21 at 8 p.m.

DVOŘÁK "Concerto for Cello and Orchestra in B minor, Op. 104"
Adagio ma non troppo
Finale: Allegro moderato


MACHOVER "Symphony in D"
Rhythm and Bolts
Black Bottom Bass
Belle Isle Interlude
Memories and Dreams
Together in D


Nicola Kuperus and Adam Lee Miller have been living and working in Detroit for nearly 20 years. They divide their time between visual and performance art. Kuperus/Miller are the band ADULT., which has released four albums along with numerous singles and remixes. ADULT. has performed worldwide from Moscow to Bogotá, in traditional venues such as The Echo (Los Angeles) to unexpected venues like The Andy Warhol Museum (Pittsburgh).

American House was founded in 1979 with the vision of providing high-quality housing for seniors at a price affordable for retirees and their families. American House is proud to be part of Symphony in D. Many of its residents worked and lived in the Motor City, and became part of its history. This project gave them the unique opportunity to share their experience and to enjoy the classic sounds of Detroit.

Bryan Pope is an independent musician/ writer/producer working in the metro Detroit area. He performs with the Detroit- based band JR JR, and he produces and writes music for advertising through a business called Bryan and Steve.

Saint Joseph Chaldean Catholic Church Choir is a church choir for Detroit’s prominent Chaldean com- munity. Many members of the choir are native Detroiters and have been members of the choir for over a decade. Some members are recent immigrants from Iraq and Syria, who have fled the persecution of Christians in the Middle East.

Detroit Achievement Academy is a free public charter school on the north- west side of Detroit. Founded in 2013, DAA serves kindergarten through 3rd grade, adding one grade level each year. Last year, their school-wide academic growth was in the 99th percentile nationally. DAA relies on private donations for over half of its annual budget.

Efe Bes is an otherworld Federation Drum Champion Congo Fusion/Bambuti Storyteller and resident storyteller at MBAD’s African Bead Museum.

Jonathon S. Muir-Cotton is a young double bassist/bassist trained in both the jazz and classical traditions; playing many genres including jazz, funk, gospel, blues, R&B and neosoul. Under the mentorship of Detroit bassists Marion Hayden, Robert Hurst, Rodney Whitaker and Ralphe Armstrong, Muir-Cotton is working toward making his own mark in the music world. He is the bassist of the KDJ Trio and has recently started Wayne State University as a freshman.

Marsha Music, daughter of a legendary pre-Motown Detroit record producer, Joe Von Battle, is a self-proclaimed “Primordial Detroiter,” and a “Detroitist.” She writes about the city’s musical legacy—and its past, present and future—in anthologies and on her blog, Marsha Music—a Grown Woman’s Tales of Detroit. She is a noted speaker, presenter and storyteller and has contributed to oral histories and documentary films about Detroit.

Morris Porter is a recording engineer, producer and disc jockey with a 25-year reputation for working with new and up- coming recording artists. Morris is constantly working on strategies to teach kids and teens the art of producing beats and music with computer technology. YouthVille has provided Morris with the opportunity to teach his passion to kids and teens, and he is proud and honored to serve the community in this capacity.

Poet and writer Tonya Maria Matthews appears as her performance alter ego JaHipster. Matthews, author of three poetry books, educator and degreed engineer, is the President and CEO of the Michigan Science Center. “The Difference Between the Boom and the Bass” is an original piece composed for the Symphony in D project.

Youthville is an after school program where children and teens in Detroit public schools can express themselves and learn new skills. Students from the Beats Making class are featured in Symphony in D.

Variously described as “America’s most wired composer” and “a musical visionary,” Tod Machover is widely recognized as one of the most significant and innovative composers of our time, and is also famous for having invented new technology for music, including Hyperinstruments which he introduced in 1986. Machover studied with Elliott Carter and Roger Sessions at The Juilliard School and was the first Director of Musical Research at Pierre Boulez's IRCAM in Paris. He is Muriel R. Cooper Professor of Music and Media at the MIT Media Lab, and is Director of the Lab's Opera of the Future Group. Machover is especially known for his innovative operas, such as the science fiction VALIS, the audience-interactive Brain Opera, and the robotic Death and the Powers which was Finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize. For the past several years, Machover has been creating “collaborative city symphonies” around the world, the most recent being in Lucerne, Switzerland where he was Composer-in-Residence at the 2015 Lucerne Festival and where A Symphony for Lucerne premiered in September along with three other new works. Machover was recently named Musical America’s Composer of the Year for 2016. For more info please visit todmachover.com.

The project is made possible by a generous grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

About The Author

Mike McGonigal

Metro Times music editor Mike McGonigal has written about music since 1984, when he started the fanzine Chemical Imbalance at age sixteen with money saved from mowing lawns in Florida. He's since written for Spin, Pitchfork, the Village VOICE and Artforum. He's been a museum guard, a financial reporter, a bicycle...
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