July 20, 2007

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Video: An intimate conversation with William Duckworth

LEWISBURG, Pa. — Composer William Duckworth knows how to put the 'world' in the World Wide Web.

Professor of music at Bucknell University, Duckworth and media artist Nora Farrell are spending the summer halfway around the world in Australia, creating a public opera to be performed in the streets of Brisbane at the end of August.

"iOrpheus" will be performed on iPods, mobile phones and laptops, along with interactive installations and performers Aug. 31 in the streets, parks and promenades of South Bank, originally the site for Expo '88, according to Duckworth.

"The intent of this public opera, based on the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, is to create guided moments where park visitors — using their everyday digital devices — may interact artistically with parallel worlds as they move through the events of their daily lives," said Duckworth.

Queensland Conservatorium fanfare

"iOrpheus" will begin with a fanfare on the steps of the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University and include five ribbons of sound as performers move from one stationary act to another. The opera structure revolves around the five central moments in the Orpheus legend: the wedding, the death, the river, the look, and home.
The hundreds of performers, comprising university students and citizens of Brisbane (children and adults), include a core group of 64 iPod players; moving groups of performers on iPods, cellphones and laptops; soloists and ensembles; participants in cyberspace in Flickr, MySpace, YouTube and Second Life; and park visitors.

Duckworth is in Australia as the inaugural Cultural Arts Fellow for South Bank Precinct (Brisbane) and a Senior Fulbright Specialist in Information Technology, assigned to the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University. More information about the opera, including a blog, is available at http://www.iorpheus.com/

Duckworth's appearances are sponsored in part by the Fulbright Foundation which is funding his three-month residency at the Queensland Conservatorium Research Centre. Duckworth and Farrell expect to be invited to return to Australia in 2009 to mount a similar state-wide public event to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the formation of the State of Queensland.

The Cathedral Project

Duckworth and Farrell are no strangers to music on the Internet. Launched a decade ago, their Cathedral project weaves together music from participants all over the globe in an interactive work of music and art. Using the virtual instrument called the PitchWeb, website visitors perform online with each other and with The Cathedral Band, musicians who give periodic live performances from venues worldwide. While the Band is improvising online, website visitors play along with them by moving shapes that trigger sound samples. For more information, see http://cathedral.monroestreet.com/index.php

Duckworth, known as the founder of Postminimalism, is a well-known theorist and composer of more than 100 works including his "Time Curve Preludes," which have been performed on five continents. He was named one of six Master Teachers in America in 1983 by the College Music Society.

A 1992 Rolling Stone magazine profile called him a "hip, bright, innovative" teacher who "opens up worlds" students never knew existed. He is the author of six books including two textbooks on music theory. Duckworth has been teaching at Bucknell since 1973.

Nora Farrell and Bill Duckworth in the Nepalese Pagoda in Brisbane. The Pagoda is the location of Act 1: The Wedding of iOrpheus, on Aug. 31.

Posted July 20, 2007


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