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New music inspired by Turing premiered at Manchester

26 Oct 2012

A concert of electroacoustic music this weekend (28 October), inspired by renowned, mathematician and computer scientist Alan Turing is to be held at the University of Manchester where he taught.

Alan Turing

The concert celebrates the centenary of Alan Turing, who joined The University of Manchester in 1948 where he remained until his death, and is regarded as the father of modern computing.

The pieces, by renowned Canadian composer Barry Truax and University of Manchester PhD researcher Mark Pilkington will be part of the four concert series Mantis Festival of Electroacoustic Music at The University’s Martin Harris Centre from 27 to 28 October.

Although his genius was most recognised in the UK for his work breaking German codes during the Second World War, Turing is seen as the father of the modern computer.

Turing was also one of the first pioneers in artificial intelligence, computation theory and computer games.

Truax’s pieces – Enigma: the life and death of Alan Turing and From The Unseen World for tenor, piano and electronics - are inspired by Turing’s work but also his conviction for homosexuality in 1952 and the subsequent effect it had on his life.

He said: “Enigma is an unstaged but dramatic rendition of two key periods in Turing’s personal life.

“The first from his early years when he became infatuated with the brilliant Christopher Morcom who died young, and the second from his final years when he was convicted of gross indecency, eventually committing suicide.

“A tenor (William George) takes the role of Turing with the composer performing the piano part of the interlude which symbolizes the spirit of Christopher as communicated from the ‘unseen world’ – a phrase of Turing’s to describe the afterlife."

The Mantis festival also features the work of composers John Young and Andrew Lewis, who is premiering ‘Lexicon’, part of a Wellcome Trust project around dyslexia.

Mantis Director Professor David Berezan, from The University’s music department said: “We’re very excited about this autumn’s Mantis Festival, as it features some of the world’s best electroacoustic composers.

“It’s also great to celebrate the new School of Arts, Languages and Cultures which opened this month.

“I’m pleased, in particular, that we are able to mark the Turing centenary, as after all, his work led to the first computer generated music made here at Manchester.”