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News Release

Office of News and Information
Johns Hopkins University
3003 N. Charles Street, Suite 100
Baltimore, Maryland 21218-3843
Phone: (410) 516-7160
Fax (410) 516-5251

November 27, 1999
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Anne Garside,
Peabody Conservatory, 410-659-8163
Jan Wootten
Rubenstein Associates Inc.,
for Times Square, 212-843-8032

Times Square New Year's Eve Features
"Virtual" Orchestra, Anthem from Peabody

On New Year's Eve, Times Square 2000, the celebration at New York's Times Square, will feature a Virtual Orchestra from Peabody performing "Ascent of Time"

New York's Times Square will welcome the New Year with the world premiere of "Ascent of Time," by Peabody composer Charles Byungkyu Kim, performed by Lightning Virtuoso Forrest Tobey, with a Virtual Orchestra developed at Peabody.

Kim, 27, and Tobey, 44, are double-degree graduates of the Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University. The Peabody Institute, established in 1857, is America's first conservatory of music. Kim also holds a computer science degree from the University's Whiting School of Engineering. Both Kim and Tobey are Artists-in-Residence at the Peabody Computer Music Department.

Tobey (center) is collaborating with Charles Kim (left) and David Wetzel on Times Square 2000.
Photos by Craig Terkowitz
Courtesy Johns Hopkins Magazine

Charles Byungkyu Kim's four-minute "Ascent of Time" will be heard just before the one-minute countdown to midnight when the famous "Ball" is lowered.

The heroic sounds of "Ascent of Time" are a blend of old and new. The "old" is represented by organ and symphony orchestra. The "new" brings in the electronic timbres and textures of the Virtual Orchestra. The organ and orchestra parts will be pre-recorded at Peabody. The additional part for the Virtual Orchestra will be performed live by Forrest Tobey at Times Square.

Tobey will stand alone in Times Square armed only with a pair of infrared light-emitting wands. He will reach the wands into the open air surrounding him. Each movement will activate and play non-corporeal instruments through sensors that will generate sounds from a computer.

The computer music group takes a break from working almost round the clock to meet deadlines for the Times Square celebration. Back row, from the left: Geoffrey Wright, Forrest Tobey, David Wetzel, Charles Kim. Front row: Jer Walter, Gustavo de Andrede, Larry Schugam and Sumi Yun.
Photo courtesy The Gazette

Tobey's performance will combine the gestural expressiveness of a symphony conductor with the physical excitement and exertion of a percussionist and the subtle movements of a Tai chi practitioner. Tobey treats the computer as an expressive instrument that responds to the subtleties of his physical movements, just as if he were playing a violin or a piano.

Tobey has created a host of virtual instruments for his Virtual Orchestra. Downward strikes may conjure up a marimba. Sideway flourishes may call forth the sound of a tree of hanging bells. Still other spatial gestures play elaborate melodies on hybrid instruments of breath and electricity.

The location, direction, and speed of the batons through space are tracked by an infrared receiver and translated into digital information sent to a computer. The light-emitting batons are part of a unique musical instrument known as the Lightning, developed by Don Buchla and Associates of Berkeley, California. Buchla has custom redesigned his device to withstand the intense signal saturation of Times Square.

Tobey's Virtual Orchestra will be heard in Times Square at several points during the 24-hour celebrations, performing other compositions/arrangements by Charles Kim.

The Times Square celebration plans to travel by satellite television round the globe as the new millennium dawns in each of the world's 24 time zones. As the first zones to celebrate the New Year include Pacific islands like Fiji, New Guinea and New Zealand, the Virtual Orchestra begins with aborigine-type instruments evoking drums and hollow logs and moves through an ethnic spectrum to Debussy-like sounds of Western classical music.

The Times Square Business Improvement District requested that the Virtual Orchestra also play something uniquely American. Charles Byungkyu Kim has therefore arranged Aaron Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man" for the Virtual Orchestra. The Aaron Copland Centenary is being celebrated in the year 2000. By arrangement with the Aaron Copland Foundation, Copland's most famous work of the old century will be conducted live on virtual instruments at the beginning of the new.

Enormous technological sophistication and logistical support are required to perform live at Times Square on New Year's Eve, with all the potential hazards of weather, massed crowds and electronic interference. Making the Virtual Orchestra work on an outdoor stage in an arena of skyscraper buildings with the necessary split-second timing "is the computer music equivalent," says one member of the Peabody production team, "of Evil Knievel jumping the Snake River Canyon."

The Times Square performances by the Peabody musicians are under the artistic direction of Dr. Geoffrey Wright, Director of Peabody's Computer Music Department and of its Technology Transfer Office.

The Peabody production team will take up residence at Times Square during the night of Dec. 30 and work around the clock with another Baltimore group -- Maryland Sound Corp., led by its president, Robert Goldstein. Maryland Sound has been contracted separately by BID to play a critical role throughout the 24-hour celebration. The company will provide a 16-channel sound system and 18 speaker stacks from 43rd to 47th Streets in Times Square.

 
Key People

Charles Byungkyu Kim, Composer/Arranger
An Artist-in-Residence at the Peabody Computer Music Department, Kim received his Master's and Bachelor's Degrees in composition from Peabody and a degree in computer science from the G.W.C. Whiting School of Engineering of the Johns Hopkins University, where he graduated with honors. He currently works in the Peabody Institute's Office of Technology Transfer as a software developer. Kim was awarded the Provost's Undergraduate Research Award in 1993. Kim has won various composition awards including the Randolph S. Rothschild Award (1995) and the Frank D. Willis Award (1996), and also received the AT&T Award in Computer Science at Johns Hopkins University. Kim's compositions have been performed in the Baltimore area and around the world on CNN. He has also composed several film soundtracks for director Neil Crawford.
   Charles Byungkyu Kim draws strongly in his music on his Korean ethnic heritage. He has composed several pieces influenced by Korean folk music. Kim is currently working on an opera based on a Korean folk tale. He has visited his parents' native land and stays in close touch with numerous relatives in Korea.

Dr. Forrest Tobey, Lightning Virtuoso/Virtual Orchestra
Tobey is founder and music director of the 21st Century Ensemble, a unique chamber orchestra based in Washington, D.C., that employs the computer as a performing member. He is also founder of the jazz/world music ensemble Off Chants, whose first CD "Sketches of India" was released to critical acclaim. He has developed at Peabody a unique software system for controlling a "Virtual Orchestra." Tobey, who holds a Master's degree and Doctorate from Peabody, is an Artist-in-Residence in the Peabody Computer Music Department.

Dr. Geoffrey Wright, Artistic Director for Peabody Performances at Times Square
Wright is a composer and director of the Peabody Computer Music Department and the Office of Technology Transfer at the Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University.

Donald Sutherland, Organ Soloist for "Anthem for the Millennium: Ascent of Time"
Donald Sutherland is professor of organ at the Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University. He has performed on famous organs round the world from Westminster Abbey, London, to Notre Dame in Paris. For "Anthem for the Millennium: Ascent of Time," he is performing on Peabody's own magnificent Holtkamp organ in the Conservatory's Griswold Hall. Sutherland can trace his own pedagogical lineage back to Johann Sebastian Bach, since he is the pupil of the pupil of the pupil and so on... of Bach.

Peabody Production/Recording Team for Times Square 2000
Dr. Geoffrey Wright, Artistic Director
Edmund Pirali, Technical Director
Charles Byungkyu Kim, Composer/Arranger
Forrest Tobey, Lightning Virtuoso/Virtual Orchestra
Alan Kefauver and Sean Finn, Recording Arts
Sumi Yun, Production/PR Coordinator
Production Assistants: Gustavo de Andrade, Larry Schugam, Jer Welter, David Wetzel

Peabody Artists/Performers for Times Square 2000
Dr. Geoffrey Wright, Artistic Director
Charles Byungkyu Kim, Composer/Arranger
Forrest Tobey, Lightning Virtuoso/Virtual Orchestra
Donald Sutherland, Organ Soloist
Peabody Symphony Orchestra, Music Director Hajime Teri Murai
Peabody Singers, Conductor Edward Polochick; Katherine Keem, Soprano Soloist

About the Peabody Institute of
The Johns Hopkins University

Dr. Robert Sirota, Director
Established in 1857 as America's first conservatory of music, the Peabody Institute affiliated with The Johns Hopkins University in 1977. Peabody is as internationally famous in music as Johns Hopkins is in medicine and encourages the composition and performance of music in the most diverse styles, offering innovative programs for the interaction of music and technology. Peabody Institute is located on Mount Vernon Place, in the historic and cultural heart of downtown Baltimore. Web site: http://www.peabody.jhu.edu/.

About the Peabody
Computer Music Department

Dr. Geoffrey Wright, Director
The Peabody Computer Music Department, which recently celebrated its 30th anniversary, is the oldest such program in a conservatory of music. Peabody prepares sophisticated and highly-skilled musicians for advanced work in areas where technology plays an essential role.

About the Peabody
Office of Technology Transfer

Dr. Geoffrey Wright, Director
Peabody is combining its traditional strengths in music with scientific discovery and entrepreneurial vision to become a market leader in music-related electronic and distance education and related products.
 


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