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"Symphony in D" world premiere features some 8,000 sounds from Detroit

Nov 20, 2015

Students from Detroit Achievement Academy performed Machover's "Symphony in D" at the world premiere this weekend, along with local poets and musicians.
Credit Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

When composer Todd Machover asked Detroiters to send in sounds of their city to help create a "sonic portrait" of Detroit, he wasn't expecting 15,000 submissions.

But that's what he got.

For the last year, Machover has been gathering sound for "Symphony in D," which has its world premiere this weekend at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. 

Machover had already done similar projects with Toronto's symphony, as well as cities in Europe and Australia. 

"None of these previous experiences, however, prepared me for the excitement and power of creating a collaborative city symphony here in Detroit," he wrote. 

For the Detroit project, he and his team at MIT created an app that let people send in recordings – from Tigers games, kid's music practices, backyard birds, the People Mover, snow storms, Belle Isle boating, and more.

Machover wove 8,000 of those files into the actual piece, and brought in local poets, drummers, musicians and even elementary school students to perform with the DSO at the premiere.