Musicians combined electronics on laptops with traditional instruments in the Boulder Laptop Orchestra (BLOrk) performance May 2, 2009, in the Black Box Studio and simultaneously in the online virtual world of Second Life.
The performance was led by assistant professor of Jazz Studies John Gunther.
“Producing a laptop orchestra concert is a very exciting, fun project,” Gunther said. “We’re trying to explore and expand the boundaries of both electronic and traditional music. To do this, it helps to have a sense of humor.”
Janet Feder, music department chairman at Naropa University, joined the group on acoustic guitar for a performance of a work inspired by Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are.”
The musicians performed with graphic backdrops projected on screens. One screen displayed the live stream of the performance in Second Life, which is an online 3D world where people interact with each other as avatars. Each of the six laptop musician had an individual speaker that uses a new technology. Originally designed at Princeton University, such speakers are able to recreate the way acoustic instruments project sound. Audience members could distinguish the sounds each laptop musician produced, as with a more traditional string quartet.
BLOrk is part of the Center for Innovative Studies in Music, Art and Technology research initiative funded by a CU Innovative seed grant. More information about the initiative is at http://www.cismat.org/.