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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Concert Review: Sonic Voyages I

On January 14th, the Arlington High School Department of Performing Arts presented Sonic Voyages I.

It was a multi-media show with electronic music newly composed by students from Mr. John DiTomaso's popular Music Technology class at the high school.

The program was divided into sections:

Suite I: Music of the Spheres

Suite II: Martin Luther King and Malcom X Tributes

Suite III: Remixes and Diatonic Projects

Grove Laboratory X1
(photo below)

Featuring about 70 student composer-musicians, the music was diverse and original. Some works were more abstract than others (e.g. exploiting the overtone series and/or non-pulsed rhythmic structures). Some pieces were more pop-oriented, had a driving beat, and were realized quite professionally.

AHS Director of Arts provided short introductory remarks, explaining that the world of professional music has shifted toward electronically-generated and digitally manipulated sounds. Technology allows musicians to work directly with their chosen sounds, without having to struggle through all of the traditional intermediary steps of music making: score preparation, parts copying, rehearsals, and live performance.

Music today is clearly not your grandfather's music. These young musician-composers take to computers, software, and audio technology like fish to water. It's remarkable how some of the former obstacles of music creation (e.g. years of formal music training) can be circumvented with the aid of user-friendly technology. Today, just about everyone can be a composer. It's no longer an obscure discipline requiring a life-time of toil to acquire the necessary skills.

Throughout the program, two large projection screens displayed images related to the music, and a digital video image mixer enhanced the audience's experience. It felt like the early 70s all over again.

Congrats to all of the young composers (including my son Joseph) featured in the Sonic Voyages I concert!