PRiSM team commissioned by Barbican Centre

Feb 2019

The PRiSM team has received its first commission for a new work in the Barbican Centre’s 2019-20 season, announced last week. PRiSM Director Emily Howard is curating an evening of performances and discussions inspired by the work of mathematician Ada Lovelace on 2 November.

The commission will be performed by the Britten Sinfonia and features a new work led by composer Robert Laidlow, who is the PRiSM Researcher in AI-Assisted Composition. In collaboration with Professor David De Roure (Oxford University e-Research) and Lovelace expert Professor Ursula Martin, Robert will be weaving brand new artificial intelligence techniques into the compositional process to create a work taking inspiration from the pioneering computer scientist.

PRiSM Barbican feature

‘A Barbican Centre commission is a brilliant opportunity for us to push our research into exciting and uncharted territory. I’m hugely looking forward to composing the new piece with the PRiSM team and developing new approaches using artificial intelligence to inform and augment the compositional process, which fits perfectly with an event revolving around Lovelace. I’m also a huge fan of the Britten Sinfonia, having seen them perform new works many times, so I am delighted to be working with them for the première.’

— Robert Laidlow

The new PRiSM work is programmed alongside world-premières of Barbican-commissioned works by internationally renowned composers Patricia Allesandrini and Shiva Feshareki, as well as a new piece by Howard and a performance of Howard’s Ada sketches (2011), libretto by Laura Tunbridge. The concert, titled Ada Lovelace: Imagining the Analytical Engine, forms part of the Barbican Centre’s Life Rewired, a season exploring what it means to be human when technology is changing everything.

Howard’s work is further featured, with the world première of Antisphere, a Barbican commission for the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Simon Rattle, opening the season on 14 September, and a performance of her British Composer Award-winning work Torus, a piece that began the geometry-inspired triptych of works that Antisphere completes, by the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Martyn Brabbins on 1 November.

A highlight of the Life Rewired season, PRiSM Co-Director Marcus du Sautoy will curate and present a series of events at the Barbican Centre in March 2019. The triptych of experiences, titled Strange Loops, includes a concert, a play and an art installation and is centred around du Sautoy’s research into artificial intelligence and creativity.