Last week at VCFA, the MFA in Music Composition Program experimented with the idea of a laptoporchestra in a workshop led by faculty member Mike Early, who makes music at the elusive borders of the classical, the popular, the traditional, and the avant-garde. Mike is particularly interested in the intersections between Western concert music and Rock music, as well as between acoustic and electronic instruments. He has written for and performed with electronic laptop orchestras, including PLOrk.
What is a laptop orchestra? From the PLOrk (Princeton Laptop Orchestra) website, a laptop orchestra “takes the traditional model of the orchestra and reinvents it for the 21st century; each laptopist performs with a laptop and custom designed hemispherical speaker that emulates the way traditional orchestral instruments cast their sound in space. Wireless networking and video augment the familiar role of the conductor, suggesting unprecedented ways of organizing large ensembles.”
In the laptop orchestra workshop, participants took turns experimenting and improvising with four laptops, and explored the different ways that laptops are now being used as performing instruments, in ensembles, in a live concert setting.