Category: Updates

Manu Delago

Virginia Tech School of Performing Arts in collaboration with the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology, the West Ambler Johnston Residential College, Digital Interactive Sound & Intermedia Studio (DISIS), and the Linux Laptop Orchestra (L2Ork) are pleased to announce a guest performance by the world-renown Hang player, percussionist, producer and composer Manu Delago. Manu’s performance will also feature internationally accomplished multi-instrumentalist artist Isa Kurz, as well as Virginia Tech’s Linux Laptop Orchestra (L2Ork). A part of a larger US tour, the concert is scheduled for April 20th @ 730p in the Virginia Tech Cube. Tickets are $15 adults, $12 seniors, and $7 students. Click here to purchase tickets. Please note Cube has a capacity of approximately 100 to 120 seats.

 

As part of Manu’s 3-day Virginia Tech’s residence, in addition to rehearsing with L2Ork, Manu Delago will also present a talk and a master class for students, faculty, as well as community members. Below is the schedule breakdown:

  • April 18th 130-220pm Lecture and Master Class in DISIS (Newman 121)
  • April 19th 1-3pm Presentation in the West Ambler Johnston Residential College Great Hall
  • April 20th 730pm Performance in the Moss Arts Center Cube (buy tickets)

 

What others have said about Manu:

“Amazing percussionist and Hang player” Björk
“Intriguingly beautiful… A mercurial sound indeed” – DJ Mag
“A man with a head full of ideas”
– Songlines
“Captivating and compelling… truly mesmerising”
– i-D
“An incredible musician in everything he plays”
– Nitin Sawhney
“A masterful and sensitive musician”
– The Telegraph

Stay tuned for more details regarding Manu’s visit and additional opportunities for engagement. In the meantime, check out Manu’s recent music video below:

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Welcome to 2018

Over the past several years most of the L2Ork’s activity shifted to the social media channels, most notably the Facebook. L2Ork has continued to grow and develop. This semester we have 15 members. We are developing a new affordable controller (a.k.a. NIME) that will enable greater expressive range. In the fall 2016 we introduced World’s first Raspberry Pi (RPi) Orchestra, starting with an arrangement of Brian Eno’s An Ending (Ascent). We also began exploring broader aesthetics–with the introduction of the RPi Orchestra, we discovered one of our former members Savannah Allen having an amazing talent for rap which has led to L2Ork’s first Rap piece L2Orkin’ Around with the lyrics by Savannah (check out the excerpt here). Most recently, we have been gearing up for a premiere of a new piece inspired by the Alien franchise that also utilizes an accompanying video footage. The plan was to premiere it today as part of the annual Virginia Tech School of Performing Arts scholarship fundraiser concert titled Exposition: Cinescapes. Alas, due to a major snow storm, or what some refer to as snowpocalypse, the event was cancelled. As a result, the Alien will be premiered at the Spring DISIS event.

For those seeking pd-l2ork, rest assured, the project is alive and well. Thanks to the efforts of Jonathan Wilkes and Albert Graef its development has shifted to the 2.x branch that now supports all major platforms and uses Node.js for all its GUI needs. There is still work left to be done before we completely abandon the 1.x branch, most notably the K12 module that remains to be ported. This summer, pd-l2ork has been selected as one of the Google Summer of Code projects. The deadline for application is only day away, but there is still time to apply. For students interested in participating, please subscribe and post your interest on the l2ork-dev mailing list.

This summer, Virginia Tech SOPA and DISIS in collaboration with ICAT, as well as University of Virginia are proudly sponsoring New Interfaces for Musical Expression 2018 international conference. For more info, visit NIME 2018 website.

Stay tuned for more exciting announcements coming soon!

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After another tremendously busy year, virtual cobwebs have covered L2Ork’s front page. It is time for another mega-post, a year in review, if you like.

2015 has been an exciting year. Following my research leave in 2014, things were slowly revving up, only to kick in the high gear with the onset of the spring 2015 semester. With the highest enrollment yet, in January, 17 L2Orkists performed as part of the Band Camp in the beautiful Fife hall in the new Moss Arts Center. In March we had an opportunity to perform at University of Maryland Architecture’s “Great Space” where we were also interviewed by UMD’s Diamondback who published a really flattering article.

L2Ork performing Between at SEAMUS 2015

Spring was also a really busy time with the national SEAMUS 2015 3-day conference taking place at Virginia Tech with 14 concerts, two listening rooms, two installation locations, and six paper sessions and panels. L2Ork peformed Between in ICAT’s Cube in front of a standing room only audience as part of conference’s opening concert. The performance featured L2Orkist Brock Allen on the sax and the rest of the L2Orkists spread across two levels of catwalks. It was also the first L2Ork performance featuring the new Glasstra app for Google Glass that displayed network and FUDI-enabled GUI that was controlled via pd-l2ork, and a concealed Wiimote and Nunchuk that was used to conduct and switch between sections.

On April 9th, L2Ork had its second visit to the Ferrum College for an evening-long performance, followed by the April 19th School of Performing Arts’ Exposition scholarship fundraiser concert back at the Fife hall. Around the same time L2Ork did another photo session with the Spring 2015 generation of L2Orkists guided by the talented eye of Cooper Long. Finally, on May 4th, L2Ork performed as part of the Spring 2015 DISIS event and the annual ICAT day where we premiered two new works, including a really cool Insomniac composition by the L2Orkist Jacob Stenzel.

Summer was just as intense with two week-long Maker camps, the annual K-12 instrument building camp and the inaugural teachers’ Maker camp. With the addition of new objects, such as the complete General MIDI implementation within pd-l2ork K12 module, this year kids have taken instrument building to a whole new level. Speaking of which, Pd-L2Ork development continues at a rapid pace with a number of releases, including most recently the 20151018 release that introduces rtcmix~ external, Eric Lyon’s fftease and potpourri libraries, as well as the new autotune~ external. There is also a major new version (currently in the alpha stage) we are hoping to release sometime this academic year.

This fall, we also participated in a number of performances, including Virginia Tech’s Center for Human-Computer Interaction‘s 20th anniversary celebration, as part of the Electro-Acoustic Barn Dance festival where we premiered a new work by Eric Lyon, and perhaps most excitingly a recent outreach performance made possible by one of the summer teachers’ Maker camp participants, Stephanie Hufton at Botetourt County’s Read Mountain Middle School, where L2Ork performed in front of 300 incredibly enthusiastic middle school students and teachers. The event was also covered by the regional Roanoke Times whose Saturday newspaper front page and online flattering coverage really made our day.

So, all this brings me to perhaps the most exciting announcement. This summer, the international Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities, a non-profit organization with an amazingly exciting goal of establishing and validating the so-called transdisciplinary third space that in many ways defines L2Ork and its mission, put out a call for national transdisciplinary exemplars, the pool of applicants included top national institutions. Only six exemplars were selected  by the national peer review to be showcased at the upcoming a2ru conference scheduled for November 8-11, 2015 at Virginia Tech, and we are thrilled by the fact that L2Ork was one of them!

And so this brings us to roughly today, even though there are a few more pending announcements in the pipeline I will leave for the next blog, so stay tuned for more updates soon! All right, now that we are mostly caught-up, it’s time to get back to preparations for the upcoming a2ru conference. Hope to see you there!

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L2Ork @ DISIS Cubed

VT Provost Dr. Mark McNamee Playing a L2Ork Instrument at President Sands' Installation ShowcaseAs we recover from the last night’s DISIS event, first one to harness the full power of ICAT’s newfound Cube and its 128+ audio speaker array, I found myself enjoying a few minutes of downtime and figured it may be a good idea to share the latest updates in the land o’ L2Ork.

First and foremost, last night we had an *amazing,* if not one of the best DISIS events (right up there with the L2Ork debut) with standing room only audience and a number of people turned away due to capacity limitations. Don’t get me wrong–CUBE is not that large. Yet, the level of interest, particularly considering our Facebook event page shows barely 25+ in attendance, left a lasting smile on our faces. Still, we felt bad for those of you who made an effort to show up on a rainy Monday night and support us only to face closed doors. I wish we could somehow redeem ourselves in your eyes (ears?) and I sincerely hope being turned away did not ruin your evening. Perhaps this is a good excuse to start relying on CFA’s amazingly efficient ticketing system for all future DISIS events?

Last night’s event also featured a collection of fantastic guest artists (Elizabeth Hoffman and Sarah Plum), VT faculty artists (Jay Crone), as well as the ICAT’s pillar of all things technical (and artistic!) Tanner Upthegrove. Heck, the program even included my 2-minute Tornado simulation… We indeed pushed Cube’s infrastructural limits, engaging its 128-speaker array through a number of different spatialization approaches, from Wave Field Synthesis to customized Vector Based Amplitude Panning. All in all, a fantastic evening.

Little over a month ago, Virginia Tech installed its new President, Dr. Timothy Sands. L2Ork participated in installation festivities in a form of a student showcase, focusing on its ongoing K-12 outreach. In addition to a number of visitors, faculty, and students, our booth was also visited by Dr. Mark McNamee, Virginia Tech Provost, who stopped by to hone his L2Ork skills. We are truly flattered by the ongoing attention L2Ork continues to enjoy both as an artistic ensemble and a K-12 research hub. I am particularly thrilled by the recent post in dcist.com that highlighted L2Ork as one of the “8 Awesome Research Projects at Virginia Tech.”

L2Ork repertiore has grown quite a bit this semester with works from Eric Lyon, a reworked version of Between for L2Ork and Saxophone (performed by a talented L2Orkist and saxophonist Brock Allen), and soon we’ll have a piece by Charles Nichols. Our collection of pd-l2ork abstractions has also matured, allowing for rapid prototyping of new compositions. Speaking of pd-l2ork, we are now nearing a new milestone in software’s development with a new major release imminent. For the latest version, please check out our Software page. As we look forward, we will shift our focus to porting core pd-l2ork to the amazing and incredibly maleable Qt UI, thus paving way towards an entirely new iteration of our software of choice and finally moving away from the aging Tcl/Tk framework.

We’ve had an amazing group of L2Orkists this semester–thirteen strong for a thirteenth DISIS event in the Cube, or as we call it the inaugural DISIS Cubed event ;-). As of this semester, the L2Ork student organization is also back online. As we look forward to the next semester and the upcoming SEAMUS national conference that will be hosted here at Virginia Tech (March 26-28), we will be joined by Nicholas Rich who will be assisting with the rehearsals as well as writing for the ensemble. This will be a fantastic opportunity for L2Ork to show off in front of leading national computer music artists and researchers. Indeed, next semester is going to be an exciting one. Hence, if you are interested in joining the ensemble, there could not have been a better time to do so. You can simply register for the course online (look for MUS3314) and if you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us. In the meantime, don’t forget to like us on Facebook and/or follow us on Twitter ;-)

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18 Months Later…

Oh dear, where to begin? It’s been 18 months since L2Ork’s last post. This is in good part because I was on a year-long research leave. As can be expected, a lot happened during this time. Our program got formidable reinforcements, Drs. Eric Lyon, and Charles Nichols, the new Moss Arts Center with amazing ICAT facilities opened, DISIS is moving into a new and amazing space at the end of this semester, and we’re hosting SEAMUS national conference this coming March.

All along L2Ork remained active on many fronts. Charles, having taught L2Ork for the past year, joined me in managing the ensemble. We’ve continued development of pd-l2ork at a staggering pace (check out our latest screenshots for screenshots of  SVG-enabled patch canvas goodness). The Raspberry Pi version in particular has seen addition of new objects offering a comprehensive alternative to Arduino platforms. Last week, we utilized pd-l2ork in “Cloud,” an interactive art installation commissioned by the Ballston Business Improvement District (BID), and in part sponsored by Virginia Tech’s ICAT where 50 cloudlets were equipped with Raspberry Pis and programmed through a series of community workshops. We had over 150 participants working in teams and perhaps what I found to be particularly impressive about this experience (apart from the fact that the event and the ensuing art was an overwhelming success), was the age range of participants–we had families with small children all the way to senior citizens, all successfully completing the 75-minute workshop and producing a working cloudlet with no prior progamming experience required! Talk about making pd-l2ork accessible to all ages :-). “Cloud” is currently located in the main lobby of Virginia Tech’s National Captial Region (VT NRC) building and will stay there until the end of this month.

Pd-l2ork has seen dozens upon dozens of new releases, with another big one coming up. We have now more contributors and developers and are preparing for a historical jump away from the aging tcl/tk toolkit to the ubiquitous and Qt library (not to be mistaken with Apple’s Quicktime). We have continued to work with Boys & Girls Club of Southwestern Virginia, and in collaboration with the Montgomery County Public Schools have also expanded our summer Maker activities to gifted programs. As a result, this summer we held our inaugural Raspberry Pi Orchestra workshop where dozen children over three days and 9 hours of workshops successfully designed, developed, and utilized their own instruments. Our summer Maker camp was sold in less than 48 hours and was by far the most ambitious and successful yet. Last fall we premiered another exciting project–OPERAcraft, that also utilized pd-l2ork to coordinate real-time opera production our in-house custom Minecraft mod. And the list goes on…

This semester, we have a strong group of dozen energetic performers and I am excited by the upcoming program. We have also refreshed our VT student organization and elected new officers. Stay tuned for further announcements over the next couple of weeks. Until then, L2Ork on!

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