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University of Iowa News Release


March 21, 2008

NOTE TO EDITORS: Please note that the names of the student composers have been added to this release

Middle-schoolers use innovative software to compose music for the Ying Quartet

Students from four area middle schools have used innovative musical software developed by Tod Machover, director of the MIT Media Lab, to compose music for the Grammy Award-winning Ying Quartet. The quartet will perform a selection of the new compositions during a school matinee at 10:15 Friday, March 28, in the University of Iowa Hancher Auditorium.

The Ying Quartet and Machover will be at the UI to unveil their new full-concert collaboration at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 29, in Hancher. Details of the performance, which will include one of the student compositions, are at

Compositions were created with Machover's Hyperscore software between October 2007 and February 2008 by students from North Central, Northwest and South East junior high schools in the Iowa City district, as well as at West Branch Middle School. Their teachers -- Cece Roudabush and Terri Finger in Iowa City, and Jim Calkins and Chris Reed in West Branch -- took a training session during the summer to learn about the software.

The students were assigned to create one- to two-minute compositions for string quartet, and the Ying Quartet will select compositions to perform at the matinee as the scores are projected on a large screen. Chris Gainey, a graduate composition student in the UI School of Music, will transcribe the scores.

The student composers whose works are selected will have an opportunity to meet the Ying Quartet and Machover following the performance:
Kaitlyn Coffin (Southeast): “Flight of the Tropical Seabird”
Kinsey Koch (Northwest): “Untitled”
Shannon Laing (West Branch): “Lines of Horror”
Sam McCleran (North Central):” Let Off Some Steam”
Kayla Wright (North Central): “The Wonderful I Don't Know”

The quartet will perform McCleran’s “Let Off Some Steam” on the Saturday evening concert.

The quartet will also perform a Hyperscore piece by Machover and other music. A demonstration of Hyperscore is accessible at

Machover -- who the Los Angeles Times dubbed "America's Most Wired Composer" -- is also the inventor of Hyperinstruments, a technology that uses smart computers to augment virtuosity for artists including Yo-Yo Ma, Prince and Peter Gabriel. He is also the creator of the Toy Symphony, an international music performance and education project, and his MIT research group is examining ways to combine music and technology in therapy for emotionally and physically challenged individuals.

Machover is also the co-founder and chairman of Harmony Line Inc., a Boston-based company devoted to developing musical tools and techniques to extend creative music-making to everyone.

Tickets for the March 29 concert are available from the Hancher box office: 319-335-1160. Long distance is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial 319-335-1158, which is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

Tickets may be ordered online at

The School of Music is a unit of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to, click the link "Join or leave the list (or change settings)" and follow the instructions.


STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Tod Machover, (please copy communications to; Philip Ying,; Cece Roudabush, Iowa City School District,; Terri Finger, Iowa City School District,; Jim Calkins, West Branch School District,; Chris Reed, West Branch School District,; Winston Barclay, UI Arts Center Relations, 319-384-0073 (office), 319-430-1013 (cell),