Toy Symphony

Tod Machover
Tristan Jehan
(software, audio analysis/synthesis)
Roberto Aimi
Gil Weinberg

With bow hardware by Diana Young
Many thanks to Laird Nolan and Peter Colao (production coordinators,) and Mike Fabio (sound mixing, Max)

Toy Symphony was composed by Tod Machover to bring together all of the elements of the "Toy Symphony" project. Scored for Hyperviolin, children's chorus, music toys (Shapers and Beatbugs,) and orchestra, the piece begins in stillness and builds to a rousing finale. "Lullaby" is a slow movement, which features the expressive power of the new Hyperviolin. A set of variations brings the Hyperviolin through a landscape of calming melody, juxtaposed fragments, layered sound masses, pulsating spectra, and back to the original melody, gently transformed. The chorus begins with whispers, then changes into delicate percussion and finally into singing, all the while enhanced and modified by specially designed software. In "Chorale," the Hyperviolin morphs its sounds as it soars melodically, and the children add Beatbugs and Shapers accompaniment to pulsate, scintillate, and accumulate. As Toy Symphony closes quietly, Hyperviolin, Hyperorchestra, and Hyperkids have reached a musical space of open expression and equal communication.

The piece was commissioned by the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland.

Toy Symphony in Glasgow (9.4 Mb)
with Gerhard Markson and Joshua Bell

Toy Symphony in Berlin (29.2 Mb)
with Kent Nagano and Cora Venus Lunny

Audio excerpts of Toy Symphony at MIT in Boston, performed by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, violinist Cora Venus Lunny, and the PALS children's chorus, conducted by Gil Rose:

Toy Symphony excerpt 1
Toy Symphony excerpt 2

More details on the performances