Toy Symphony culminates in worldwide performances that highlight and promote the new music created for and by children. The performances include a full orchestra playing traditional instruments with electronic enhancements, a number of local children using Music Toys, world class conductors like Kent Nagano, and a celebrated hyper-soloist such as violin virtuoso Joshua Bell. The concert program will feature several new compositions for orchestra, children and Music Toys. The pieces are outlined as follows:

 

Designed as the opening piece for Toy Symphony, Tod Machover's overture for symphony and electronics is a kind of Young Persons's Guide to the Future Orchestra. "Sparkler" (premiered at Carnegie Hall in October 2001) takes listeners on a compact but dramatic journey while pushing the boundaries of orchestral potential. Microphones capture and analyze instrumental sound masses, allowing the players to generate and control (pushing, pulling, twisting, and morphing) complex electronic extensions and turning the whole ensemble into a kind of 'hyperorchestra'. Through its delicate, sinuous melodies and rapturous, scintillating textures, "Sparkler" reflects the energy, innocence, imagination, vulnerability, and rapid passing of childhood.

 

Composed by Gili Weinberg of MIT Media Lab, "Nerve" is based on the interplay between pre-composed rhythmic musical motifs and improvised "shaping" by the participants. It is performed by 6 kids and 2 professional percussionists playing an interconnected network of Beatbugs. In the piece players send their motifs through a stochastic computerized "Nerve" center to be transformed and developed by the group. The piece starts in a clear manner that conveys the development of each motif over time and gradually grows into a rich and constantly evolving polyphonic texture which is driven by the tension between the systemís chance operation and the playersí improvised decisions.

 

Young French composer Jean-Pascal Beintus wrote "Nature Suite", a short piece divided into four movements corresponding to the four seasons of the year, for four children playing Music Shapers accompanied by the orchestra. In each movement the Music Shapers are used to play different sounds, which describe the atmosphere of the season.

 

In each city, local children compose original pieces using Hyperscore. The conductor chooses the best from several compositions, and the pieces are automatically transcribed into standard notation for performance by the string section of the orchestra.

 

A special transcription of Paganini's Caprice No. 24 was developed to show off some of the potential of the new Hyperviolin techniques. Created to be performed by Joshua Bell on his acoustic Stradivarius, it uses only a microphone and a couple of foot pedals to turn the violinistís playing into a swirling spiral of violin sound, doubling or tripling his sound, or delicately reinforcing or modifying its timbre, all under his expressive control.

 

Machover's culminating work involves all he participants in the project (children, orchestra, hyperviolinist) as it ties together all the musical elements of Toy Symphony in a single dramatic narrative. The two-movement work is a story about the experience of childhood shared between child and adult.