Recognising that today is the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we’re reflecting on our performances of specially commissioned works inspired by the woman who united the worlds of 19th-century romanticism and cutting-edge science – Ada Lovelace – back in November 2019 at the Barbican and in Oxford.
This event was devised by Emily Howard, a composer whose own music explores the frontiers of scientific thought, and it included performances and talks which offered a post-millennial perspective on Ada’s legacy and achievement through the setting of the Barbican’s Life Rewired series. Life Rewired ran throughout 2019 and explored what it means to be human when technology is changing everything.
Britten Sinfonia is a champion of new music, new thought, and intelligent and pioneering events, and we were especially happy to work on this intriguing project which celebrated Ada Lovelace, often thought of as the first computer programmer, who had a passion for music and the arts, perhaps influenced by her father Lord Byron…
The concert featured works by many new and upcoming female composers, including Emily Howard, Patricia Alessandrini, Shiva Feshareki, as well as the Royal Northern College of Music’s Centre for Practice & Research in Science & Music (PRiSM) led by composer Robert Laidlow. PRiSM had commissioned the creation of the Lovelace Engine, and this beautiful new instrument featured strongly in new piece Alter.
Here is a link to a video of the Lovelace Engine in action; it was inspired by Lovelace’s assertion that Charles Babbage’s hypothetical computer, the Analytical Engine, could be used to create music.
Britten Sinfonia combined this AI-inspired project with piloting the use of iPads as opposed to paper scores across the whole ensemble, in conjunction with nkoda, Our players took on this new challenge enthusiastically, especially within the context of much new music to learn and perform.
All in all, this project recognised an incredible female role model in the field of science, through the medium of music and discussion. More information can be found about the concert here.
Find out more about Ada Lovelace Day (an international celebration of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) and which often takes place in October) to learn more about her work; check out the Finding Ada Network for more information.