The first fully-automated performance of the 1924 Futurist/Dadaist/Cubist composition “Ballet mécanique” by George Antheil takes place this weekend in the East Wing of the National Gallery of Art, on the Mall in Washington, DC–in conjunction with the larges exhibit in history on Dadaist art.
Programmed by composer/author/music technologist Paul Lehrman, and using robots built by the League of Electronic Musical Urban Robots (LEMUR) under the direction of Eric Singer, this will be the culmination of eight years of work bringing Antheil’s almost-forgotten work-for xylophones, bass drums, electric bells, siren, airplane propellors, and 16 player pianos-back to life. And it will be LOUD.
Featuring computer-driven player pianos by Gulbransen, and software from Mark of the Unicorn running on a Macintosh G5 computer, the installation will reside on the Mezzanine of the Gallery through March 29, playing a ten-minute version of the Ballet mécanique at 1:00 pm every day, and additionally at 4:00 pm Monday-Friday.
The grand opening of the Ballet mécanique installation will take place at 1:00 pm on Sunday, March 12. JUST ANNOUNCED is a special PRESS EVENT at 4:00 pm on Saturday, March 11, when the piece will be previewed to CBS News, PBS, and other news organizations. The public IS INVITED!
More information about the Ballet mécanique can be found at http://antheil.org. LEMUR’s website is http://lemurbots.org. The National Gallery of Art is at Fourth Street and Constitution Avenue. Admission is always FREE. Their website is http://www.nga.gov.
In other exciting news, BAD BOY MADE GOOD, the documentary film by Paul Lehrman and Ron Frank about George Antheil and the Ballet mécanique, will have its broadcast premiere on WETA-TV Channel 26, Washington’s PBS station, on Sunday, April 9th at 3:00 pm. Dates for other broadcasts will be announced soon.Bad Boy Made Good (http://antheil.org)
I just got this e-mail. I wish I could see this! Someone in the DC area, please go to this and let me know what it’s like!
If you think steam punk is cool, it looks wimpy next to Ballet Mechaniqe, which was punked out on steam long before steam punk became retro.