Preview of Award-Winning 'Telematic Opera' Set for Monday

March 01, 2012

March 1, 2012 — Performers in Miami, Indianapolis and Charlottesville will take advantage of advanced network technology Monday to preview music from an award-winning opera by University of Virginia music professor Matthew Burtner.

"Auksalaq: A Telematic Opera," which will debut in its entirety in October, uses high-speed Internet connections to link audiences and performers from multiple sites. On Monday, an audience in New World Symphony Hall in Miami will see a preview of about 30 minutes of music. The performers there will be joined by others at the Tavel Center in Indianapolis and in a classroom in U.Va.'s Old Cabell Hall.

"The way the piece is made it can be performed in various venues and structures," said Burtner, who created the opera with collaborator Scott Deal, a professor at the University of Indiana-Purdue University Indianapolis. "For each context, we make a special version of the piece. This one will include three stages."

The New World Symphony ensemble in Miami will be joined by a flute soloist. The Indianapolis performers include a percussion ensemble and a harpist, and U.Va. pianist John Mayhood will perform in Charlottesville.

The music for the piece is written to take into account issues such as latency, or the delay in delivering the signal between two points. In its finished form, "Auksalaq" audience members will also able to interact with the performance in real time through new Web-based software called NOMADS, or the Network Operational Mobile Applied Digital System, which would allow them to answer questions or view parts of the performance on mobile devices.

The performance Monday serves as a sort of dry run for both the performers and the technology, said Burtner, an associate music professor in the College of Arts & Sciences.

"The performers will use an Internet clock, a network clock that keeps everyone on track," he said. "I'm really excited. I had a rehearsal with the flute player today, and that's sounding well, and I met with the people in Indiana and that's coming together. These days I just spend all my time on Skype rehearsing with ensembles in other locations."

In October, the piece won a 2011 Idea Award from Internet2. Those awards are designed to "recognize and encourage innovative advanced network applications that have the most positive impact and potential for adoption within the research and education community," according to Internet2, a nonprofit consortium of universities, corporations, government agencies, laboratories and other institutions that develop breakthrough Internet technologies.

The New World Symphony collaborates with Internet2, and this performance developed as an indirect result of the award, Burtner said.

– by Rob Seal