Two Days Until Premiere!

Hello Detroit :) We’ve only got 2 days until the big debut of Symphony in D! In light of this, we at Opera of the Future wanted to give you all an update on how things are wrapping up as the event approaches.

First things first: the score is finished! Check out the picture we’ve included below. It’s quite cool, and only a taste of what’s to come over the next couple of days.

In these last few weeks and even in the last few hours(!), Tod and the group have been ironing out how exactly the special collaborators will fit into the final performance. This project is such a unique opportunity for Detroit because of the diverse of backgrounds of those collaborating, and all from the same city too! We are so honored to have such amazing talent who may not have otherwise coalesced in collaboration with Tod and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra – and not just collaborating, but performing together as well. This particular symphony is also unique because the artists contributing original music will be doing so live, a first for any city symphony! You definitely won’t want to miss this moment.

To give you a glimpse of the inner workings of this unique collaborative process, we’ve interviewed one special collaborator from the education world in Detroit and our Detroit-based project manager, and have recorded their responses for you all to enjoy.

Our first interview is with Chad Rochkind, the great project manager who has been instrumental in bringing all of the amazing talent and partners together.

Opera of the Future:  What drew you to collaborating with Tod and the DSO on Symphony in D?

Chad Rochkind: I was drawn to collaborate with Tod because when I saw him speak at Ponyride at the inception of the project, it was clear that he was a brilliant man, equally talented in technology and the arts. I was also really interested in how the creation of the symphony could be utilized to be more innovative about community engagement. I come from the urban planning world, and in that field there’s a lot of thinking going on about how best to engage people in the creation of urban space, and when Tod spoke about a collaborative symphony, I knew that this would be an interesting opportunity to test some new approaches for bringing people into the creative process. After that talk, I made it my top priority to sit down with Tod. I had no idea at the time that there was a position available.

The timing of this project also seemed particularly poignant. When we began Symphony in D, Detroit had just emerged from bankruptcy, so I thought that the creation of a symphony in which the entire city had an ability to participate was such a profound opportunity for us to tell our own story on our own terms, while simultaneously providing the moment for healing many of the wounds of the past.

OOTF:  How has your experience been so far on the whole?

CR: It’s been one of the greatest honors of my career. It’s not everyday that you get the opportunity to work as closely with someone of Tod Machover’s caliber. It’s been amazing to watch someone as prolific as him treat all people with a gregarious spirit, whether it’s the homeless guy we met at the Heidelberg Project, or the captains of industry throughout the city.

OOTF:  What has been most challenging?

CR: A project of this scope touches a lot of people and there are a lot of people who have a stake in its success. That’s a great thing, but it’s also a challenge to keep 30 balls in the air at all times, and also please everyone who wants this to meet their goals. It’s been a challenge, but part of the fun is finding interesting ways to make as many people happy as possible.

OOTF:  What has been your favorite part?

CR: My favorite part of the project has been seeing so much of the city. I often say that Detroit is the coolest city in the world if you know where to look. I had an excuse to look in every corner of the city as a result of Symphony in D. That took me to some unexpected corners and to some inspiring people.

Similarly, I was absolutely thrilled by the way in which the city embraced this process. Everyone we talked to just wanted to be involved, whether that was through submitting sounds or opening doors, and for that I’m eternally grateful.

OOTF:  How has your experience been working with all the collaborators?

CR: Working with the collaborators has been amazing. It was interesting to see the way in which multiple genres commingle and thrive in Detroit. If there’s a common link between all the various musical cultures in the city, it’s a preference for unpolished exuberance. We don’t like things too fancy here, but we’ll out- hustle you any day. That spirit transcends age, race, gender, and all the other divides.

Next, an interview with collaborator Kyle Smitely, founder of Detroit Achievement Academy. Students from the DAA will be reciting their dreams for Detroit and introduce their very own Hyperscore piece during a special moment in the fourth movement of the symphony.

Tod with Detroit Achivement kids

Opera of the Future: How did DAA come to collaborate with Tod and the DSO on Symphony in D?

Kyle Smitely: DAA students are so lucky to know the DSO team and be the luckiest attendees of the DSO’s educational concert series. The DSO sent a bassoonist (Michael Ma) out to our school two days before we attended a performance for the first time and he was so great to our kids and made the symphony really and truly accessible to them, because then when they all went, they weren’t overwhelmed or intimidated, they were there to cheer on our friend Michael! We were honored when the DSO asked if we would like to partner on this exciting project!

OOTF: What has it been like to have Tod work with your students on Symphony in D?

KS: Tod is SO great with our students! Hearing him be so excited about the music they created meant a lot to all of us! Our students feel totally comfortable chatting with Tod! (Maybe a little too comfortable?!) I don’t think they fully comprehend how extraordinary he is and how incredible the entire project is yet, which is actually pretty refreshing and adorable and a great lens to approach something like this through.

OOTF: What are you hoping for your students to gain from this experience?

KS:I want them to realize that they are talented and that people are interested in hearing their dream for Detroit because they matter. And I want them to know that the entire audience believes in each of their ability to make their dream for Detroit come true.

It’s amazing how this project, in its socially sensitive nature, has provided such inspiration. We’re excited for all of you that will be in the city for this incredible moment musically and culturally, and hope you make the most of your regional opportunity to witness the performance!

For those of you non-Detroiters, you also have the opportunity to be a part of the Symphony in D performance by watching the live video stream at dso.org/live this Saturday, November 21st at 8:00pm.

We would love to hear about your Symphony in D experience! Contact us at detroit@media.mit.edu!

SYMPHONY IN D Score

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