In Nashville…

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April 7, 2013: the Southeasterm US Premiere of Ballet mécanique

Blair Percussion VORTEX — Michael Patrick Holland, conductor
with 8 Yamaha grand Disklaviers, siren, bells, sampled airplane propellers,
and 10-piece student percussion section—who played the hell out of it!

The reception was so enthusiastic, they had to play it twice!!
Read the amazing review in


A whole day of Antheil/Léger/Murphy talks and exhibits:

Mini-symposium program, 1:30-5 p.m. Joy Calico, Symposium organizer and moderator

1:30 p.m. Bad Boy Made Good: The Revival of George Antheil's 1924 "Ballet mécanique." Documentary film by Ron Frank and Paul Lehrman.

2:30 p.m. Q&A with Paul Lehrman, Ph.D., director of The Ballet mécanique Project.

3:30 p.m. "The Painter's Revenge: Fernand Léger For and Against Cinema." Gordon Hughes, Mellon Assistant Professor of Art History, Rice University.

4:15 p.m. "Machine Musicianship: How computers have learned to play along with human musicians." Arshia Cont, Scientific Leader, MuTant Team Project (INRIA/CNRS) Director, Research Creativity Interfaces Department, IRCAM

Robotics and new media art exhibition, 6:45 p.m.

Robots on the plaza! The Middle Tennessee Robotic Arts Society with a variety of small and large robots, plus Vanderbilt University Engineering professor Julie Johnson and the Davidson Academy Middle School Lego Robotics Club.

In the lobby

Artists Greg Pond and Benton-C Bainbridge invite the audience into Fernand Léger's Ballet mécanique film with an interactive movie installation. New media technologies are used to explore Ballet mécanique's themes, where the everyday is made magical and humans become mechanized.

Guests in Ingram Lobby control scenes from the movie: a motion-tracking lever moves a burden-bearing worker woman up and down a staircase; Chaplin's signature cane dances Léger's puppet back and forth above the lobby doors. Guests are encouraged to bring pocket-sized props to spin on the Kaleidoscopic Turntable.

Sound artist Liz Scofield has created interactive audio compositions informed by the aesthetics and concepts of Ballet mécanique. Come early and experience Ballet mécanique as never before!

VORTEX concert program, 8 p.m.

Strands of Time, by Brian Blume

Ostinato Pianissimo, by Henry Cowell

Malachite Glass, by Nigel Westlake

Double Music, by John Cage and Lou Harrison

Moving Air, by Nigel Westlake


Saltarello-Presto from Symphony No. 4 ("Italian"), by Felix Mendelssohn. Arranged by Paul D. Lehrman (1999) for eight robotically controlled Yamaha Disklavier pianos

Film clip: Segments from interviews with Other Minds Artistic and Executive Director Charles Amirkhanian and Dr. Mary Davis, Case Western Reserve University, about the significance of Ballet mécanique and its restoration. See rare archival film footage from 1920s Paris, and get a glimpse of an actual Paris concert hall riot.

Southestern United States premiere:
Ballet mécanique, by George Antheil, introduced by David Kibler, Cultural Attaché to the Consulate General of France in Atlanta. Ballet mécanique is synchronized to the Fernand Léger/Dudley Murphy film in the original 1924 orchestration, featuring eight robotically controlled pianos and 13 live performers, including two pianos, four bass drums, four xylophones, tam tam, siren, seven electric bells, and three airplane propellers.

More press...

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Blair Percussion VORTEX revives
George Antheil's ahead-of-the-curve
Ballet mécanique with robotic pianos

Click here to see the full article

Click here to see the full article