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  • Location:
    New York

Robotic Orchestra Meets Avant-Garde Film Masterpiece Ballet Mécanique in
Tribute to Composer Showcases Legendary 1924 Score with Fernand Léger Film:
NYC Debut of Ballet Mécanique Performed by 25-piece Automated Orchestra
PLUS Performances by Lukas Ligeti, Kathleen Supové, Joshua Fried, Luke Taylor, Harris Wulfson

Hourglass Group in association with Yamaha Pianos and Other Minds is proud to present ANTHEIL’S LEGACY, a rare public presentation of George Antheil’s groundbreaking 1924 music composition Ballet Mécanique, performed live in NYC for the first time by the 25-piece automated orchestra created by LEMUR: League of Electronic Musical Urban Robots. The live score will accompany a screening of the recently restored film Ballet Mécanique created by Fernand Léger and Dudley Murphy. This not-to-be-missed event on June 7th at 3LD Art & Technology Center is the first time NYC audiences will be able to experience the legendary film-with-music (the first “music video”) as originally conceived by the artists 84 years ago.

Curated by Charles Amirkhanian, Executive & Artistic Director of Other Minds (San Francisco, CA) and music executor of Antheil's estate, ANTHEIL’S LEGACY will feature performances by cutting-edge composer-musicians who are carrying on the radical musical spirit of avant-garde composer George Antheil (1900-1959): Lukas Ligeti, Kathy Supové, Joshua Fried, Luke Taylor and Harris Wulfson. ANTHEIL’S LEGACY will follow a benefit performance of Elyse Singer's play, FREQUENCY HOPPING. Winner of the 2007 STAGE International Script Competition, FREQUENCY HOPPING is a multidisciplinary work based on the 1940 collaboration between Hollywood starlet Hedy Lamarr and composer George Antheil on a secret communication system. Antheil’s knowledge of player piano technology greatly influenced their invention, now recognized as a model for wireless communication.

When Antheil set out to write Ballet Mécanique in 1924, he believed that, with the help of Parisian piano maker Pleyel, it would be possible to synchronize multiple player pianos, but as time grew closer for the premiere, he learned that the idea was not technically feasible. Antheil re-wrote the score for a single player piano and a large number of live pianists.

During his lifetime, Antheil was never able to achieve the precise synchronization between 4-16 player pianos that he had originally imagined. Fast forward to 1999, when composer-musician Paul Lehrman used digital technology to synchronize 16 pianos via MIDI; with computers, the original instrumentation and synchronization could finally be realized in a live concert setting. In 2006, Lehrman teamed up with celebrated Brooklyn-based music-technology outfit LEMUR to automate the entire 25-piece orchestra for the Dada Exhibit at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.

Never before has Ballet Mécanique been presented in NYC with the precise synchronization and instrumentation of sound-and-image envisioned by its creators in the 1920s. With the support of Anthology Film Archives, who have meticulously restored the original film, Paul Lehrman has been working to ensure the utmost musical and historical accuracy for this presentation at 3LD. Ballet Mécanique will be performed by 8 synchronized Yamaha Disklavier player pianos plus an automated ensemble of 2 xylophones, 4 bass drums, tamtam, siren, 7 bells and 3 airplane propellers.

Preceding the performance of Ballet Mécanique, Charles Amirkhanian will introduce three contemporary composers whose works explore unique connections between music and technology. The program includes: Lukas Ligeti’s Delta Space for Disklavier and tape to be performed by renowned pianist Kathleen Supové; Luke Taylor’s Equal Tempered Canon for James Tenney for four Disklaviers and a new untitled work by Harris Wulfson. The afterparty will feature a reception and Joshua Fried’s Radio Wonderland, which manipulates sounds taken from live FM radio using a steering wheel and robotic shoes as instruments.

Hourglass Group develops adventurous new plays and reinvestigate neglected vintage American comedies. Past productions include Beebo Brinker Chronicles (2008 GLAAD Media Award), which transferred Off-Broadway to 37 Arts produced by Lily Tomlin and Jane Wagner; Trouble in Paradise (2007 Obie) and the critically acclaimed revival of Mae West's SEX. More info: www.hourglassgroup.org

ANTHEIL’S LEGACY will be presented June 7, 2008 following the 8pm benefit performance of FREQUENCY HOPPING. Tickets for the event are $25 to $100 and include a post-show reception with the artists. 3LD Art & Technology Center is located at 80 Greenwich St. (at Rector St. – accessible from the 1/R/W trains at Rector St.). To buy tickets, call 212-352-3101 or visit www.frequencyhopping.net.