Eastman Musicians Win $100,000 to Launch Creative Collision Project

By Emily Wozniak

ROCHESTER, NY – Sound ExChange, an ensemble of Eastman musicians, has been awarded a $100,000 grant from the Max and Marian Farash Charitable Foundation to partner with professors from the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), Microsoft Studios, and the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra (RPYO) to produce Sound ExChange: Interactive Classical Visions Project. Emily Wozniak, Sound ExChange’s Executive Director and founder says, “This grant provides an amazing opportunity for a transformational collaboration between the worlds of live music and technology.”

Described by the Rochester Business Journal as a group that “turns the classical music concert on its head,” Sound ExChange is devoted to designing transformative concert experiences. Through experimentation with the way music is created and presented, the group deepens the connection between performers, audiences, and music. Sound ExChange has a history of piloting innovative collaborations, such as “Anomaly: BIODANCE, Sound ExChange, and W. Michelle Harris” for the 2013 Rochester Fringe Festival. In reviews of the show, the Democrat and Chronicle described Anomaly as a “true sensorial experience,” and Matt DeTurck of CITY Newspaper wrote, “I am going to attempt—and fail—to adequately describe the merits of the astonishing “Anomaly”… It was so lovely to behold that I found myself dreading its inevitable conclusion.” Audience response was overwhelmingly positive with sold-out shows.

Sound ExChange, in collaboration with professors from RIT, applied for the Farash Foundation’s Cultural Creative Collision grant in August through a fiscal sponsor, the Rochester Oratorio Society.  In response to the foundations request for a creative collision—the innovation that results when different perspectives, talents, and abilities come together—the collaborating partners developed a project proposal to integrate technology into the concert experience. Sound ExChange: Interactive Classical Visions Project (ICVP) will utilize digital technology to promote audience participation by creating ways for performers and audiences to interact and connect with live music. ICVP will encourage the audience to use mobile devices, social networks, and immersive technology to enhance the concert experience. Additionally, the project will have a home online through Sound ExChange’s website, which will allow the ICVP to grow and develop with each live performance. The grant will fund the creation of new technology that will be used in an eight-concert series, which will premiere in Rochester.

Building upon its mission to transform the concert experience, Sound ExChange became intrigued by the idea of finding a meaningful way to integrate modern technology into live performances and applied for the creative collision grant to pilot ICVP. The project will involve a close collaboration between Sound ExChange and professors from RIT. Additionally, Microsoft Studios and the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra will be directly involved in the creation and implementation of the project. Collaborating partners from RIT include Susan Lakin, Joe Geigel, and Katie Verrant. Lakin is currently an Associate Professor and Program Chair of Advertising Photography at RIT; Geigel is an Associate Professor of Computer Science with expertise in Computer Graphics, Multimedia, and Interactive Systems; and Verrant is a student in the New Media Design and Imaging Program in the School of Design. Microsoft Studios will offer technical expertise as well as access to new advances in technology.  The RPYO, along with other educational institutions, will be involved in the educational component of the project. Through ICVP, young musicians and students will engage in classical music in creative ways and will be exposed to elements of entrepreneurship and innovation as they directly relate to classical music and art.

Sound ExChange: Interactive Classical Visions Project will be developed and premiered throughout the duration of the funding period of the grant: January 2014 to January 2016.

Follow and learn more about the ICVP collaborating partners:

www.soundexchangeproject.com (Sound ExChange)

http://www.susanlakin.com/Artist.asp?ArtistID=24403&Akey=L6DFL793 (Susan Lakin)

http://www.cs.rit.edu/~jmg/ (Joe Geigel)

http://www.kverrantdesigns.com (Katie Verrant)

For more information contact Emily Wozniak: ewozniak@soundexchangeproject.com or (314) 973-6479