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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Oh, it’s on: Cleveland Orchestra punks Detroit’s Robot Conductor with visit from Virtual Maestro

Posted By on Tue, May 6, 2008 at 3:00 PM

magic%20wand.jpg The feud between struggling post-industrial towns is heating up. And the biggest blows aren’t being thrown on the hardwood or in the shared waters of Lake Erie. No, for evidence that the long-festering rivalry between Detroit and Cleveland has boiled over, one need not look further than the staid halls of their respective symphony orchestras, where a robotic arms-race threatens the fragile peace cobbled together ever since Lebron torched the Pistons in the Eastern Conference finals. ... On May 13th, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra will be conducted by ASIMO, a humanoid robot made by Honda that looks like a spaceman wearing a jetpack. ASIMO tours the world doing promotional events, helping prepare us regular folk for the coming robot apocalypse, or “robocalypse,” as it’s known by guys who still get called up for dinner. But the Cleveland Orchestra has Detroit beat, check and mate. That’s because, for the month of May, anyone who’s ever wanted to experience the singular thrill of conducting can live their dreams at Severance Hall, through the magic of the UBS Virtual Maestro. The touring baton is wired to a flat-screen so that when a patron does something like, say, moves the baton really fast, the orchestra will respond to the monitor by playing their instruments faster (and silently cursing their bosses for subjecting them to such blatant audience pandering). For the brie and crackers set, it’s about as close as they’ll get to understanding the appeal of Guitar Hero, twirling their wand to the tunes of Rossini and Tchaikovsky. Cleveland is just one of eight stops for the virtual maestro. Conspicuously missing from that list? You guessed it: Detroit. – Caleb Hannan

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