TIMARA Dept. Presents (T)echs Machina Festival Mar. 13-15

March 11, 2019

By Erich Burnett

TIMARA alumnus Alex Christie '09
Photo credit: courtesy TIMARA

Three days of performances, workshops, and more highlight technology's connection to music.

Computer music has had a welcome space at Oberlin since back when the computers themselves took up nearly all the space.

Half a century later, Oberlin’s TIMARA Department—short for Technology in Music and Related Arts—is presenting a celebration that honors that past while keeping an eye ever trained on the future.

(T)echs Machina is a three-day festival of performances, workshops, and talks featuring TIMARA faculty, alumni, and esteemed guests. (The name derives from the Latin term ex machina, meaning “from a machine.”)

TIMARA alumnus Eli Stine '14

Among those onboard are award-winning composer and Columbia University professor George Lewis, composer-performers Onyx Ashanti, Akiko Hatakeyama, and Steven Kemper, and TIMARA alumni Eli Stine ’14 (pictured right) and Alex Christie ’09 (above).

They will be joined in their artistry by the entire TIMARA faculty—Tom Lopez ’89, Aurie Hsu ’96, Peter Swendsen ’99, and Abby Aresty—each of whom will present a composition.

Bassoonist Dana Jessen, Oberlin Conservatory’s director of professional development and associate professor of contemporary music and improvisation, will perform works by Swendsen and Lewis. Beverly Acha, a visiting assistant professor of studio art, will perform a piece with Aresty.

“TIMARA is an exciting world of music, technology, innovation, and imagination,” says Hsu, who will perform a piece she created with Kemper. “ (T)echs Machina invites the campus and community to celebrate both these beginnings and the endless possibilities that arise when we combine music, technology, and performance.”

Aurie Hsu '96 with Steven Kemper

Hsu and Kemper's piece, Why Should Our Bodies End at the Skin, for sensor-equipped dancer, robotic percussion, sound exciters, and live sound processing, probes the “intersectionality and fluidity” between organisms and machines. It will be performed as part of the festival’s first of two concerts, at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 14, in the Birenbaum, on the lower level of the Hotel at Oberlin (10 E. College St.). A reception will follow the performance.

(Techs) Machina’s second concert is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 15, in the Birenbaum.

To hear more about the festival and some of the music programmed, visit Oberlin Conservatory on SoundCloud.

Festival Schedule

The complete festival schedule is as follows (all events are free and most are open to the public):


3-4:15 p.m.
George Lewis and Dana Jessen: Seismologic: Q&A and Demo (in Stull Recital Hall)

6-7:30 p.m.
Eli Stine: Introduction to Processing Workshop; limited to current Oberlin students, advance signup required (TIMARA Gallery, lower level of Bibbins Hall)

7:45-9 p.m.
Alex Christie Lecture/Demo: Composing Musical Power Structures Through Light and Sound (TIMARA Gallery)


1:30-2:45 p.m.
George Lewis Talk: Open, Available, and Situational Forms (Birenbaum, lower level of the Hotel at Oberlin)

7:30 p.m.
Concert 1, featuring works by Abby Aresty, Aurie Hsu and Steven Kemper, Peter Swendsen, Tom Lopez, and George Lewis, with reception to follow (Birenbaum)


11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Onyx Ashanti Talk: Sonocybernetics: a new model of language for the singularity age (Birenbaum)

7:30 p.m.
Concert 2, featuring works by Alex Christie, Eli Stine, Akiko Hatakeyama, and Onyx Ashanti (Birenbaum)

(T)echs Machina was organized in conjunction with Alumni in Service to Oberlin College (ASOC).

You may also like…

Time Traveling with Jeremy Denk

November 13, 2023

The pianist and Oberlin alum is touring the country with an era-spanning program featuring women composers. He returns to Finney Chapel for the Artist Recital Series on November 30.
Black and white photo of man sitting arms resting on a piano.

Sounds of Change

November 10, 2023

Associate Dean Chris Jenkins wrote the book on conservatory reform.
Chris Jenkins in a panel discussion.