for chamber orchestra, string quartet, three remote string quartets, 5 laptops, and Google Hangouts (or the like) (2013) – 14 minutes
Orchestration: 1111 1111 Timp Perc Pno Hp strings; string quartet, 3 remote quartets (one or more of the string quartets may be drawn from the orchestra’s string sections, provided that multiple strings remain in each orchestral string section), plus 5 laptops with ethernet access and videoconferencing software loaded
Commissioned by: American Composers Orchestra CoLaboratory Playing it UNsafe
World Premiere: 5 April, 2013, American Composers Orchestra, George Manahan conducting (New York City); Gildas Quartet, Dane Lam conducting (Manchester, UK), Carnegie’s Zankel Hall
“…entrancing…surreally beautiful…ecstatic…rapturous” — The New York Times
“…inspired…hauntingly beautiful…a glitchy, gorgeous success” — Slate
In the spirit of using the problem as its own solution, Latency Canons incorporates technology’s limitations as the central idea. Musicians in different places play simple lines together using ordinary video-conferencing software, and the random blips freezes, and delays themselves create a counterpoint of beautiful, unexpected relationships, like echoes in a digital cathedral that wraps around the world.
During the performance, the audience sees musicians on stage directly, as well as musicians playing offstage and in remote locations, on camera and webcast through video-conferencing software. Each laptop’s screen is projected to an overhead screen that allows the audience to both hear and see all the musicians involved.
Latency Canons poses the question of how we make music together in our world, how that may be changing, and what this will mean for the musical experience. Our technology is drawing us closer and closer together in so many ways, and the attitude of the work is one of communion over distances. This is a different kind of music making that, along with its limitations, has the potential to bring people together in different ways than ordinary chamber music. In realizing the work, we have tried to maintain the simplest possible setup, with basic free software that is easy to use. I’ve tried to avoid having this piece exist as a specialized high-tech feat, but rather as an idea that anyone with a computer and an internet connection could hope to try on their own.