Valdosta Daily Times

Features

September 8, 2013

APPlause! Valdosta Symphony opens with an iPad Concerto

VALDOSTA — The Valdosta Symphony Orchestra plans to turn people’s perceptions of what they expect from an orchestra on its head this coming week.

People often consider an orchestra to be a group of musicians playing ancient, classical music, on traditional, non-electric instrument. Though far more musically appealing than that sentence sounds, it is the basic truth of a symphony orchestra.

Enter the husband-and-wife team of composer Ned McGowan and soloist Keiko Shichijo. Shichijo will perform the U.S. premiere of McGowan’s Concerto for iPad and Orchestra Saturday night with the Valdosta Symphony Orchestra.

That’s right. The cutting edge technology of the tablet leads the timeless music of the orchestra. Meanwhile, McGowan’s work imbues modern technology with a soul.

While it may sound novel, composers have long taken advantage of technological advances, McGowan says.

“Electronics and computers have a long history and future in music among composers,” he says.

However, with exception of a few chamber pieces, “it is quite scarce in the classical/new music scenes,” McGowan says of his iPad concerto. But he was inspired by the possibilities.

“The aspect that excited me to compose for the iPad was its combination of visible gestures with many new possibilities to create music within Apps,” he says.

As for what audiences can expect, McGowan says, “You can expect the soloist to play the iPad in front of the orchestra, just as if it was a piano or violin concerto. Also, throughout the performance, there are projections on a large screen behind the orchestra of the iPad being played and its screen output so that the audience can see what the soloist sees — ‘a peek inside the kitchen, so to speak.’”

The American-Dutch composer has won numerous awards for his music’s “rhythmic vitality and surprising forms and are performed regularly in halls and festivals all over the world,” according to a short biography provided by the Valdosta Symphony Orchestra. “A pioneer composer of new directions, he has also written the world’s first concerto for Contrabass Flute and Orchestra and created a new form for projected photography and music, together with Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky.”

This concerto is McGowan’s first for iPad.

“Typically, I am a traditional pencil-and-paper type composer working with acoustic instruments. When a violin just draws the bow along the string or a clarinetist plays a note, it just works. There is beauty of sound and human expression,” McGowan says.

“With electronics, it is very difficult to replicate that combination in an effective way. When the iPad came along, I got excited in the possibilities of electronic music because of the gestural technique of the touchpad — you see a movement and the sound changes — and the open source nature of the apps being written for it — and the creativity possible.”

His wife was key to composing the iPad concerto.

“I knew that she had the right combination of finger technique and expression to be able to play it,” McGowan says. “The solo part turned out to be fantastically difficult and she hit it out of the park at the premiere.”

The Japanese-born Keiko Shichijo has won international awards as a pianist. “Known for her technical command in live performances,” according to the VSO, “... she showed off the iPad’s possibilities for virtuosity, expression, percussiveness, and new visual ways of creating sound.”

The concerto first premiered in June 2012. McGowan sent a copy to Howard Hsu, Valdosta Symphony conductor, who booked the composer and Shichijo to open the VSO’s 2013-14 season.

During the Valdosta Symphony Orchestra performance Saturday night, a screen will allow the audience to see what Shichijo is doing as she plays. Mid-week, the VSO will host an iPad Party where McGowan and Shichijo will explain how to use various musical apps, and play together in iPad choirs; participants are encouraged to bring their iPads to this event, Hsu says.

Text Only
Features
  • bicycle safety.jpg SGMC, Kohl’s to host Bike Smart safety event

    SGMC, Kohl’s Department Store, Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department and Safe Kids Lowndes County will host Bike Smart!

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140410-AR-Wake_Compound001.jpg Bringing wakeboards to Lowndes

    In college, many dream of their future career paths and, while some may seem far fetched, some people are able to make theirs a reality. Luke Tilt and Quinn Silvernale were able to do just that.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140401-Ballet003.jpg Beautiful Dancers

    The Ballet School in Valdosta offers children with special needs the chance to live out their dreams of being a dancer. For many, this may have seemed like a far fetched dream given their physical limitations, but as the Ballet School proves, there is no such thing as a physical limitation.

    April 13, 2014 5 Photos

  • Dido and Aeneas 1.jpg VSU Opera, Chamber Singers Present ‘Dido and Aeneas’ April 19-20

    The Valdosta State University Department of Music will present “Dido and Aeneas” at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 19, and 3 p.m. on Sunday, April 20, in the West Hall Rotunda. Seating is limited to 100 people per performance.

    April 12, 2014 2 Photos

  • Film Review Captain A_Rich copy.jpg A salute to ‘Captain America’

    Our reviewer looks at "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," 'The Grand Budapest hotel' and "Bad Words."

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • easter eggs.jpg VLPRA hosts ‘Egg-ceptional Egg Hunt’ Saturday

    Easter egg hunts are an old tradition, but this Saturday, the Therapeutic Division of the Valdosta-Lowndes County Parks & Recreation Authority is putting a new spin on it.

    April 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • wanee1.jpg Wanee Festival 2014

    For a decade, the Allman Brothers have made it an annual tradition to settle along the Suwannee River and jam with some friends and fellow musicians. And music fans from near and far can come watch, listen and dance.

    April 6, 2014 3 Photos

  • vhsart5.jpg MUST RUN All winners in the VHS art show

    Judging the Valdosta High School art show is no easy feat.

    April 6, 2014 5 Photos

  • Film Review Noah_Rich copy.jpg ‘Noah’ fails to stay afloat

    Our reviewer looks at the movies "Noah" and "Sabotage."

    April 5, 2014 1 Photo

  • flag.jpg Stand Up America Rally this weekend

    It’s not a political rally, but rather a gathering this weekend to “stand up and say we want America back.”

    April 3, 2014 1 Photo

Top News
Poll

What you think about school and workplace rules about Facebook friends?

There have to be rules.
No need for rules, just use common sense.
If people want to be friends, what is the big deal?
Nobody uses Facebook anymore.
     View Results