2019-20 MIT Sounding

MITSO: The Night Before

A recording of the performance is available on YouTube

John Williams: “Devil’s Dance” from The Witches of Eastwick
Harry ManfrediniFriday the 13th Suite
Angelo Badalamenti: Theme to Twin Peaks
Don ByronThree Pieces from the Saul Bass Project, World Premiere

The MIT Symphony Orchestra’s tribute to the art of film music from classic Hollywood soundtracks to new works.

The July 11 broadcast features the world premiere of renowned composer and clarinetist Don Byron’s Three Pieces from the Saul Bass Project, commissioned by MIT, which accompanies classic film noir title sequences by the legendary Saul Bass (Something Wild (1961), The Shrike (1955), and Walk On the Wild Side (1962). The program also includes music by John Williams (“Devil’s Dance” from The Witches of Eastwick), Angelo Badalamenti’s theme to Twin Peaks, and Harry Manfredini’s Friday the 13th Suite.

The performance was originally scheduled, along with the US premiere of Tod Machover’s A Toronto Symphony, for March 13, 2020 in MIT’s Kresge Auditorium, but because of COVID-19 the students of MITSO, led by Evan Ziporyn, played in the empty concert hall right before they had to leave campus. Fortunately, we are able to share this recording with you in a streamcast hosted on YouTube and at the Arts at MIT Facebook page. The work by Tod Machover was presented earlier in our virtual concert series (view it on YouTube).


A Toronto Symphony

Saturday, May 9, 2020 / 7:00pm

The MIT Symphony Orchestra performs the US premiere of MIT Professor of Music and Media Tod Machover’s A Toronto Symphony

Hosted on the Arts at MIT Facebook page

The MIT Symphony Orchestra (MITSO), led by Evan Ziporyn, programmed A Toronto Symphony for a concert that was  to have taken place on March 13, 2020. For this occasion, Machover revised the composition and also invited the student players of MITSO to collaborate with him to create a new section of the piece, now called “MIT Interprets Toronto”, a new twist on the City Symphony model.

Another surprise was in store for the project when it was announced that MIT had to shut down—and students needed to leave campus—on March 13th, the very day of the concert. However, the MITSO players voted to come in for what would have been the dress rehearsal on the evening of March 12th, to play together for one last time before dispersing, and to record the music for the concert. This video is of that March 12th recording, filmed by Peter Torpey, Paula Aguiler, and Jonathan Williams. Torpey—who created the original visuals for the Toronto premiere—combined live footage of MITSO with collected visuals from Toronto, and added evocative new material as well. The video of Toronto’s CN Tower in the Toronto Dances finale is live footage from the 2013 premiere, when Machover, Torpey, and team synchronized the tower’s LED lighting to the orchestral performance which was broadcast by the CBC.


A Toronto Symphony is the first of composer Tod Machover’s City Symphonies. It was commissioned by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, who premiered the piece in March 2013. With this project, Machover – who is Muriel R. Cooper Professor of Music & Media at the MIT Media Lab – “rethought the symphony as a community event” (Musical America), a portrait of a place created for and by the people who live there. As Machover described when he launched the project publicly in 2012, the goal was to create a sonic portrait of Toronto by “listening” to the city in order to discover its special features, by inviting all Torontonians to collect and submit their favorite sounds of the city and also to create original musical compositions using the Media Lab’s Hyperscore software, and then to engage in online and in-person workshops and activities to help shape the composition itself. The result produced a model which Machover and his team have brought to cities around the world.

Of this video performance, Tod Machover says: “Although we were not able to give the public performance of A Toronto Symphony as planned, it is especially meaningful to have this documentation of the piece that represents months of devoted work by MITSO and Evan Ziporyn. I am delighted that these young musicians were able to perform this difficult music so well. I’m also pleased that the piece ’transposed’ smoothly from Toronto to Cambridge (complete with a new section), and that orchestral music, electronics, “found” sounds, and multilayered visuals are combined just as I originally imagined them.”


Due to MIT’s recently updated policy regarding COVID-19, MIT has cancelled the concert MITSO MOVIES MACHOVER. Thank you for your understanding.


2019-20 Terry and Rick Stone Concert

Cancelled: March 13, 2020 / 8:00pm / Kresge Auditorium
Cancelled: Pre-show Composer Talk / 7:00pm / Kresge Little Theater

MIT Building W16
48 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA



John Williams, “Devil’s Dance” from Witches of Eastwick

Don Byron, Three Pieces from the Saul Bass Project *World Premiere* (performed live with film)

Angelo Badalamenti, themes to David Lynch films (Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive,Twin Peaks)

Harry Manfredini, Friday the 13th Suite

Tod Machover, A Toronto Symphony — *US Premiere*

MIT Symphony Orchestra, Evan Ziporyn, Director



MITSO MOVIES MACHOVER is the MIT Symphony Orchestra’s tribute to the art of film music past, present, and future, from classic Hollywood soundtracks to new works that immersively combine live music with visual images. The concert, directed by Evan Ziporyn, culminates in MITSO’s first-ever performance of genre-breaking 2016 Composer of the Year and Muriel R. Cooper Professor of Music and Media Tod Machover’s boundary-pushing orchestral music.

Machover’s A Toronto Symphony, the first of his celebrated City Symphony series, is a musical and visual portrait of Toronto, created by Machover in a beyond-crowd-sourced collaboration with the greater Toronto community. In keeping with the site-specific ethos of the work, Machover worked with input from the student musicians of MITSO to further customize the piece for this US premiere performance.

Also featured will be the world premiere of renowned composer and clarinetist Don Byron’s Three Pieces from the Saul Bass Project , which will be performed live with classic film noir title sequences by the legendary Saul Bass (Something Wild (1961), The Shrike (1955), and Walk On the Wild Side (1962)). The program also includes music by John Williams (“Devil’s Dance” from The Witches of Eastwick), Angelo Badalamenti’s brooding themes to David Lynch films, and the US premiere of Harry Manfredini’s Friday the 13th Suite.

Prior to the concert, a composer’s forum will take place featuring Machover, Byron, and Manfredini, moderated by Music and Theater Arts Senior Lecturer and specialist in film music Marty Marks.

CAST Blog:





Images (top): Tod Machover “listens” to Toronto. Credit Andy Ryan. (middle) Evan Ziporyn conducts MITSO, 2019. Credit: Caroline Alden. (right) Audience views in 3D IMAX. Creative Commons.

The Music of Glenn Branca Live: The Glenn Branca Ensemble/Ambient Orchestra

September 20, 2019 / 8:00pm
MIT Kresge Auditorium, W16
48 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA

“When science fiction writers describe the ‘Music of the Future,’ one can imagine Branca’s music— shimmering and heavenly, and stark, physical, and austere.” – Lynden Barber, Melody Maker

This concert honors legendary composer Glenn Branca (October 6, 1948 – May 13, 2018) and the continuing work of the Glenn Branca Ensemble to expand what is possible in contemporary music. Branca’s 45 years of work as a composer included music for experimental rock bands, large ensemble instrumentals for electric guitars, symphonies for both electric instrumentation and acoustic orchestras, chamber ensembles, an opera, a ballet, choral works, and music for film, dance, theater, and installation art. His impact is also felt in the influence he had on artists as diverse as Sonic Youth, David Bowie, Swans, and many other composers and sound artists.

The Glenn Branca Ensemble, led by Reg Bloor, concertmaster and Branca’s right hand since 2000,  performed The Third Ascension and Branca’s last composition, “The Light (For David).” Also on the program are two of Branca’s rarely performed orchestral works, Free Form and the first movement of Symphony No. 14: 2,000,000,000 Light Years from Home, performed by the Ambient Orchestra under the direction of Evan Ziporyn.


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MIT Sounding Presents Both Sides of Composer Glenn Branca

The Glenn Branca Ensemble at MIT


Lochan Rijal’s काँचो आवाज (Raw Sounds)

October 5, 2019 / 6:30pm
Lobdell, MIT Building W20
84 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA

Lochan Rijal, an award winning multi-instrumentalist singer and songwriter from Nepal, brings काँचो आवाज (Raw Sounds), a public concert of Nepali music featuring original compositions played on guitar and traditional Nepali instruments.

Rijal presents an exquisite collection of songs that celebrate Nepali’s traditional musical heritage in a contemporary world to create a unique and rich blend of sounds. काँचो आवाज also features Sarangi and the nearly extinct Gandharva lute arbaja that Lochan Rijal discovered during his research in Nepal.

In काँचो आवाज, Rijal experiments with new dimensions of sound while encompassing his own literary style to tell stories of everyday life in Nepal including the premiere of पागलखाना को साँचो, a song about social inclusion.

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Musician Lochan Rijal Brings the Music of Nepal to MIT

Lochan Rijal at MIT

The Heart is a Bell: Iva Bittová with the MIT Symphony Orchestra

October 10, 2019 / 8:00pm
MIT Kresge Auditorium, W16
48 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA

Iva Bittová performs the US premiere of her album Zvon with the MIT Symphony Orchestra (MITSO) and guests Keala Kaumeheiwa, bass; Phil Sargent, guitar; Austin McMahon, drums; and Venkatesh Sivaraman, piano. Evan Ziporyn, faculty director of CAST and professor of Music and Theater Arts, conducts the opening concert of MITSO’s season as part of the 2019–20 MIT Sounding series.


Program includes:

Vítězslava Kaprálová, Suita Rustica

Evan Ziporyn, Frog’s Eye

Iva Bittová, Zvon (US Premiere)
with Iva Bittová, solo voice; and jazz combo featuring Keala Keumeheiwa

Composed over 75 years apart, Kapralova’s Suita Rustica and Bittová’s Zvon pull from their parallel yet distinct musical and cultural backgrounds to create orchestral tapestries merging Czech folk art with urbane modernity. Together they exemplify the ongoing ways in which composition can fiercely assert identity and difference.

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The Heart is a Bell: Iva Bittová Makes Joyful Music with the MIT Symphony

Iva Bittová at MIT


DJ Septet

the wave function collapses
harbanger DJ Septet Concert

January 16, 2020
MIT Building W97
345 Vassar Street, Cambridge, MA

harbanger (pronounced “harbinger”), a turntable septet created by Visiting Artists Harry Allen, Hip-Hop Activist & Media Assassin, and X-Ecutioners’ DJ Rob Swift, in a groundbreaking concert featuring DJs Axis Pro, Bobby Bangers, Don Santos, Emoh Betta, Menace, Slipwax, and Treeman debuted compositions by Breakmaster Cylinder, DJ Treeman, and DJ Don Santos.

The concert also included selections from the new eponymous album by Da Odd Couple (Rob Swift and Mista Sinista), an energetic, psychedelic collection of scratch-based beats that (head) nod to the future while embracing the genre’s roots.

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DJ Septet at MIT

JS Bach: Complete Cello Suites
Johnny Gandelsman, violin

February 8, 2020 / 7:00pm
Kresge Auditorium, MIT Building W16
48 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA

Following up on his celebrated debut recording of JS Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas, Grammy award-winning violinist and producer Johnny Gandelsman (Brooklyn Rider, Silkroad Ensemble) returned to MIT with his new project, presenting Bach’s complete cello suites on the violin.


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Johnny Gandelsman at MIT

Image: Johnny Gandelsman. Credit: Shervin Lainez.