A few observations from yours truly – for this is not a review. Fantasy of Companionship will not scare any horses, the music is very filmic and popularly-orientated – twenty-one vignettes titled descriptively lasting thirty-three minutes – and transferred to disc at a loud pop-style volume, and anyway the recorded sound is one-dimensional, if vivid, the piano as closely balanced as can be. However, if the score doesn’t do much for me – one playing satisfied my curiosity – then being objective it probably has a wide and big appeal. Signum SIGCD670. https://signumrecords.com/product/the-lim-fantasy/SIGCD670/
Read on (originally published on February 15)…
THE LIM ‘FANTASY OF COMPANIONSHIP’ FOR PIANO AND ORCHESTRA
CREATED BY DR SUSAN LIM AND DR CHRISTINA TEENZ TAN
COMPOSED AND PRODUCED BY MANU MARTIN
CO-PRODUCED BY GRAMMY-NOMINATED PRODUCER,
WITH ACCLAIMED PIANIST TEDD JOSELSON
THE LONDON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA AND LONDON VOICES
CONDUCTED BY ARTHUR FAGEN
SET FOR RELEASE ON 23rd APRIL 2021 ON SIGNUM RECORDS
As we find ourselves at the intersection of technology and humanity where physical forms embedded with Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems may one day reach a level of sophistication that approaches human level artificial general intelligence, human engineering of the inanimate may produce companions previously unimaginable. It is precisely this concept of an inanimate-human companionship that pioneer surgeon Dr Susan Lim, together with her project Co-Creative Director, Dr Christina Teenz Tan, explore in the ‘Fantasy of Companionship’ for Piano & Orchestra, composed by Manu Martin and released on 23rd April 2021 on Signum Records. Recorded in November 2019 at Abbey Rd Studios, it features acclaimed pianist Tedd Joselson alongside the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Arthur Fagen, together with solo voices and choral ensemble, London Voices.
A pioneer in the field of transplantation, robotics and stem cell research, Dr Susan Lim first introduced the concept of enabling inanimates to be companions of the future at the ‘Road to the US – India Global Entrepreneurship Summit’ in partnership with INK 2017, in Hyderabad, India, in the session ‘Giant Leaps: Thrilling Potential of AI and Robotics’. Dr Lim has concerned herself with the very real problems of both an ageing global population and loneliness on one hand and disruptive new science and technologies on the other. Dr Tan, a neuroscience researcher at Stanford University, California has been fascinated by the possibility of enabling inanimates with artificial intelligence. In the ‘Fantasy’, both jointly explore through music the potential of inanimate life and how these factors may influence new concepts of companionship. They see that the bio-engineering of inanimate objects has started to blur the line between life and non-life and feel passionate about opening this up as a global conversation through a creative medium of communication, namely their project ‘ALAN the Musical’, from which the ‘Fantasy of Companionship’ for Piano and Orchestra draws inspiration.
Belgian-American pianist Tedd Joselson was only 17 when he auditioned in 1973 for the Philadelphia Orchestra’s music director, Eugene Ormandy, after which the famous conductor remarked “Anything you want, you can play with us”. He was offered a recording contract by RCA whilst still a student at Juilliard and made a number of critically acclaimed recordings. He is noted for his lyrical playing across a wide range of repertoire.
Music Director of the Atlanta Opera since 2010, conductor Arthur Fagen is in great demand as a conductor of symphony and opera throughout Europe, Asia, South America and in the USA. He is a regular guest at prestigious opera houses, concert halls and music festivals around the world. Maestro Fagen is currently Professor of Orchestral Conducting at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, USA.
Manu Martin graduated at the age of 16 from the Conservatory of Bordeaux with a jury ‘Special Mention’. He then joined the Faculty of Musicology of Toulouse and Bordeaux, where he completed a Masters in Musicology. He moved to Paris to pursue a career as a pianist and composer, composing music for television and radio. Mr Martin has worked alongside acclaimed French artists and most recently composed six of the tracks from Florent Pagny’s chart-topping album ‘Aime La Vie’. In 2017, Manu Martin joined Dr Susan Lim’s ALAN project both as a musician and as music arranger for the ‘ALAN the Musical’, together with Matthieu Eymard, Music Director for the ALAN project. Recognising Martin’s musical talents and creativity, Dr Lim commissioned him to compose the Lim Fantasy of Companionship for Piano and Orchestra.
Said Dr Susan Lim: “In November 2018, I commissioned Manu Martin to write me a Fantasy conveying hope for the future of companionship between an inanimate and a human; a Fantasy that would, through the sheer brilliance of pianist Tedd Joselson and the London Symphony Orchestra, unfold and explain the journey of a soul from wild to captive, from animate to inanimate and with the addition of electric sounds, to herald the inanimate’s bold futuristic step into a new world order of synthetic biology, AI and robotics, climaxing through solo voices and a chorus in the most heartfelt plea of the inanimate for a shared existence with its human partner, an entanglement of souls, a human-inanimate partnership, the future of companionship“.
‘Fantasy’ composer Manu Martin noted:“The opportunity to work alongside Creative Director, Dr Susan Lim on the ALAN project together with Music Director, Matthieu Eymard; to share Susan’s vision of companionship for the future and to compose the Fantasy of Companionship for Piano and Orchestra with her guidance has been the most extraordinary and uplifting experience of a lifetime for me.“
Pianist Tedd Joselson added: “Based on a remarkable story of companionship in the age of technology in ‘ALAN the Musical’ and with the guidance of its genius creator, Dr Susan Lim and the young star composer, Manu Martin, the ‘Fantasy of Companionship for Piano and Orchestra has been co-created – a truly magnificent addition to the realm of piano concerto repertoire. The Fantasy is based on original music from the ‘ALAN the musical, which in addition to the glorious piano and orchestral writing also prominently features an electric guitar, solo voices and chorus, a masterstroke of creative ingenuity, which I am truly delighted and honoured to lead as solo pianist”.