New on Festival Bytes: co-creating a musical portrait of Edinburgh

3 April 2013

In her latest blog post on Festival Bytes, the blog of the European Festivals Association (EFA), Jackie Westbrook, Marketing and Communications Director of the Edinburgh International Festival, introduces a new project launched in the run-up to this year’s festival edition: Edinburgh residents, visitors, and fans and performers at Edinburgh International Festival are being called on to send in sound files which capture their memories of Edinburgh, and its transformation into the Festival City each August. What is the first sound you hear in the morning? What is your favourite Festival memory? What does your street sound like? We are inviting people to record or describe these sounds and to send them in through the Festival website and SoundCloud to provide composer Tod Machover with the basis of a creative work which he will then continue to develop with public interaction through to the beginning of July. We believe that this new work Festival City, commissioned by the Festival from Tod Machover who has been described by the Los Angeles Times as ‘America’s most wired composer’, goes beyond crowd sourcing to a new level of creative interaction and exchange. The work will be created through a Festival partnership with the public, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, its new chief conductor Peter Oundjian and the celebrated Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab where Tod Machover is based. Tod Machover is recognised as one of the world's most imaginative and influential composers, and is also known for his music technology inventions, from a "hypercello" for Yo-Yo Ma to the innovations behind Guitar Hero. In addition to composing boundary-breaking works for instruments and electronics, Machover seeks ways to actively involve the public in music-making, through projects like his interactive Brain Opera or the Hyperscore composing software system. He is also celebrated for his innovative operas, including the "robotic" Death and the Powers which was Finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize ( On the launch of Festival City Tod Machover said, ‘It is thrilling to begin work on this new composition, which will build on a collaborative model I developed for the recently premiered A Toronto Symphony, a musical portrait of that city created with its citizens. Festival City invites all who love Edinburgh – yearlong residents to Festival participants to audience members – to reflect with me on how the city sounds through the memory of past visits, the intensity of current participation, the stillness of the city ‘out of season,’ and the multi-layered complexity of performances, people and places during Festival time. The goal is to create together a musical work that reflects the magnetic, magical and mysterious qualities of Edinburgh and its Festival.’ Find out more on the project on Festival Bytes.