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Leoš Janáček

Leoš Janáček

Mládí (Youth) for Winds

Janáček composed Mládí in 1924, around the time of his 70th birthday, and during the interval between two operas that have become repertoire staples: The Cunning Little Vixen and The Makropulos Affair. Mládí (Youth) looked back at the composer’s own childhood, with folk-like tunes and lighthearted melodies rendered in the breezy tones of a wind sextet. In his operas, Janáček mastered the technique of shaping his vocal lines to the natural contours of the spoken word; he utilized the same principle in this instrumental work, shaping the main theme to match the tone of the phrase, “Mládí, zlaté mládí!” or, “Youth, golden youth!” This figure reappears throughout the suite, imparting a playful, almost teasing tone. The second movement, in an Andante sostenuto tempo, is the most reserved, with its modal melody first intoned by the bassoon alone. The third movement borrows a piccolo themes from a short work Janáček composed earlier in 1924, “March of the Blue Boys,” a reference to the blue uniforms he wore along with other young choristers. The finale spins out new possibilities from the “Youth, golden youth” gesture while requiring the winds to execute virtuosic, rapid-fire tonguing.

Aaron Grad ©2014

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Clarice Assad

Clarice Assad

The Evolution of AI for Chamber Orchestra and Electronics (SPCO commission, world premiere)

The Evolution of AI is a contemporary musical composition that delves into the intricate interplay between human artistry and artificial intelligence. The piece invites the listener on a journey that explores and questions the boundaries of creativity and the profound implications of human and artificial intelligence (AI) collaboration. The work is written for chamber orchestra, electronics and a human performer acting as a hybrid human-AI machine inside a musical experiment. It is not the machine's first time around, though. The first movement, titled Reboot, hints at the idea that this hybrid being has existed before. The Evolution of AI is four movements, performed without interruption.

I. Reboot: The journey begins with the machine's awakening, a process of rebooting its electronic consciousness. This movement serves as the inception of our narrative, embodying the raw energy and unpredictability of a technological rebirth.

II. Data Collection: As the machine-human hybrid comes to life, it engages in a unique and dynamic dialogue with the chamber orchestra. Gestures and interactions between the performer and the orchestra capture the initial data assimilation, reflecting the intriguing moment when technology and human expression merge.

III. Machine Learning: The next phase marks the assimilation of vast musical knowledge from Western music repertoire. The machine-human hybrid absorbs, interprets and adapts traditional and contemporary compositions — all while integrating its newfound wisdom into an evolving musical landscape.

IV. Creation: The fourth movement, sets the stage for an intriguing finale. As the AI hybrid machine extends its astonishing ability to compose in real-time, it ventures into uncharted territory, producing music with unprecedented speed. Yet, an unexpected twist looms on the horizon. With every note played, the machine's energy depletes, and its survival hangs in the balance. Will its creative brilliance culminate in triumphant innovation or remain a bittersweet enigma? As the music crescendos and the machine's energy dwindles, its final moments echo the unstable and evolving relationship between humanity and artificial intelligence.

Clarice Assad ©2023

Bedřich Smetana

Bedřich Smetana

From My Life for Strings (arr. by Adams)

About This Program

Approximate length 1:25

In this program specially curated by SPCO violinist Daria Adams, two autobiographical works by Czech composers Leoš Janáček and Bedřich Smetana look back to their pasts, exploring ideas of youth and homeland. Smetana’s From My Life — a self-described work of programmatic intimacy originally written for string quartet — is arranged here by Adams for a larger ensemble, showcasing the rich texture of the SPCO strings. Framed between the two works first born at the turn of the 20th century, Brazilian-American composer and singer Clarice Assad looks forward in a new work completed as part of her Sandbox Residency, The Evolution of AI. Written for chamber orchestra and electronics, Assad will break the traditional concert mold and explore the relation between human artistry and artificial intelligence by assuming the role of a hybridized human-machine reawakening from a past life. Expect the unexpected in this genre-bending program where composers weave stories from their lives!

Learn more about our Sandbox Residency at


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