Category: News

Guy Livingston performs with the Zürich Ballet

Under the choreographic direction of Meryl Tankard, the Zurich Ballet presents a new version of Ballet mécanique, entitled “For Hedy.” The performance is scored to music by George Antheil, arranged for piano and 64-channel electronics by Paul Lehrman and Guy Livingston; and performed by Guy Livingston at the piano.

Nine performances of “Timekeepers” at the Zurich Opera House as follows:
20, 21, 26 January
2, 4, 9, 17, 18, 23 February
programme: For Hedy, Les Noces, Rhapsody in Blue

The «golden» 1920s have gone down in history as a time of ecstatic cultural and technological advancements. This production, entitled Timekeepers, brings three works from that decade that prominently feature piano, all premiered a century ago. The evening will also see three female choreographers from three different generations. The world premiere of Igor Stravinsky’s Les Noces, which took place in 1923 with the Ballets Russes in Paris, rewrote music and ballet history. Stravinsky paired a mixed choir with a lineup of four pianos and a percussion ensemble for this dance cantata, which retraces the course of a traditional wedding ceremony. Choreographer Bronislava Nijinska, the sister of Vaslav Nijinsky, accentuated the neoclassical angularity of Stravinsky’s music with constructivist groupings of dancers, pyramid-like setups, and hard, angular, stomping movements. With Nijinska’s legendary Les Noces choreography, the Ballett Zürich dances a key work of the 20th century.

In the audience of Les Noces in Paris was a young American, whose extravagant lifestyle and rhythmically driven, mechanically-controlled music soon earned him the title of a «Bad Boy of Music»: George Antheil. His most famous work is the Ballet mécanique, which he revised several times. Its first version was intended to be music for a surrealist-Dadaist film by Fernand Léger. Meryl Tankard makes her debut with the Ballett Zürich. Australia’s best-known choreographer will bring the piece to the stage in a version for piano and loudspeakers under the title For Hedy. Meryl Tankard began her career dancing with the Australian Ballet and with the im Tanztheater Wuppertal under Pina Bausch. She has since made an international name for herself between the worlds of classic and modern dance.

When he premiered Rhapsody in Blue in 1924, George Gershwin wanted to give Americans their own musical identity and, with the help of music, overcome ethnic and cultural barriers. One hundred years later, the young South African choreographer Mthuthuzeli November explores Gershwin’s «musical kaleidoscope of America» in Rhapsodies. Mthuthuzeli November currently lives in London, and is the recipient of a number of prestigious awards, including the Lawrence Olivier Award, for his creations. Mthuthuzeli November has long been more than an insider tip in Great Britain, and this marks his first collaboration with the Ballett Zürich

Quiet Spheres

Quiet Spheres, an artwork by Guy Livingston, which is currently orbiting the earth

My artwork consists of two parts: a musical instrument which remains on earth, and five spheres which travel into space. The electronic musical instrument vibrates below the reach of human hearing. But as soon as the miniature spheres are placed on the surface, the sound becomes audible, and you can hear the music.

The five spheres are made of five different materials (steel, silver, pearl, howlite, lodolite). Each sphere has its own mass, color, reflectivity, and texture. Each also has its own sound when placed on the instrument. While in their transparent space gallery, they will move around in microgravity, rotating around each other, bumping into each other and into the sides of the cube. Each one influences the others, in an ever-changing artwork, a slow dance. And they make tiny sounds, which only they can hear.

The five spheres are voyaging on the International Space Station, and will stay there for the duration of the mission. Meanwhile, back on earth, I have also built a musical instrument, which ‘activates’ the spheres. Imagine a flat board with five speakers embedded in it. Each speaker is vibrating on a low frequency, too low for human ears to hear. But as soon as one of the tiny spheres is placed on its speaker, the sound is suddenly audible.

The musical instrument is called the “QSI” (for Quiet Spheres Instrument). While the spheres are traveling on the ISS, the QSI will be silent, even though it continues to vibrate at low frequency. But when the spheres are re-placed on the instrument, its vibrations will be suddenly audible. The spheres will bounce up and down on the speakers, creating a buzzing sound, and also a visual demonstration of their activity.

materials used in Quiet Spheres

The QSI project deliberately illustrates several concepts – one is my admiration for the random, never-repeated motion of the bouncing spheres; and the other is my interest in silence. Why would silence be important to our understanding of our relationship to outer space? The moon, after all, is essentially silent. But the sun is not, nor is the earth. The International Space Station itself is quite noisy. Yet space itself is silent, and I like to imagine that the QSI provides an illustration of that – when we remove the spheres from the instrument, it is like removing the atoms from a bell jar – we create a vacuum – whether scientific or artistic.

This artwork is inspired by vibrations, cycles, and the attraction and repulsion of bodies in space. The spheres themselves have a mysterious quality – they contain the possibility of making music, but only do so when placed on the instrument. The instrument plays its own eternal music. Indeed the spheres will become voyagers, not telling their story until they return to earth. Their constant bumping during the trip will ensure that they have slightly changed. Their sound will be different when they return to us.

Moon Gallery

I tried to incorporate some themes of silence and movement, quietness and activity, into my artwork. Although I have been designing artist boxes for years, this is the smallest one I ever made, at just under 1 cubic centimeter. “Quiet Spheres” is inspired by the 5 LaGrange points in outer space, which are gravitationally ‘neutral’ in relation to the earth and the sun (or the moon). My artwork is part of the Moon Gallery, which is currently orbiting the earth every 90 minutes on the International Space Station.

podcasting workshop

Welcome to Guy’s Podcasting Workshop
KABK September 2021

This audio-makers workshop is for beginners in the audio field and those with a bit of experience as well. In four sessions, students will learn about different formats, how to plan a podcast, storytelling strategies, how to best record and edit sound, how to use music and sound effects, and how to translate a visual story to audio.

Session 1: What’s a Podcast? Where’s a Podcast?

Before the intro session, students will share their favorite podcasts, and make a list of 3 ideas for a 5 minute audio podcast.

First Half: introduce different forms of arts podcasts, with examples, I NEED BETTER EXAMPLES! and then introduce storytelling. What is storytelling? Who do you know who tells a good story? Why does it work? When do you tell what? What do you leave out? How do you get a message to the audience?


On Capturing Stories: commerical focused, On Capturing Stories, host Jordan Craig.

Foam Stories – miniseries on migration (based on photo exhibition)

Street Shots Photography Podcast: – Antonio M. Rosario and Ward Rosin about art collectors and fine art photography

Ansel Adams exhibition curators talk (boring?) black-eyed polaroids long conversational chat format = 1:20 Sunny 16 Podcast

Second Half: practicalities: what equipment will you need?
(see equipment notes below)

And give an introduction to Audacity, plus link to YouTube tutorial

What are your ideas? Go around room and share 3 craziest ideas for podcasts, and discuss how these could work.

Assignment for tomorrow: students choose a theme, and write a 3-minute spoken-word story about it. Question for Don: should theme be visual? Or related to photography? Or random?

Session 2: Storytelling & starting to record

Before this session, students choose a theme, and write a 3-minute spoken-word story about it.

First Half:

We’ll start by going around the room, and each student will present their 3-minute story. We’ll share tips and critiques, and try to find traditional and non-traditional ways to tell each story. The world of podcasting is so vast, and there are so many audiences – we’ll think about who might be listening, and how to keep their interest. We’ll also address how to ‘show’ visual materials via headphones; how to present physical art or conceptual art via an audio channel.

Second Half:

we’ll discuss nuts and bolts: the basics of recording.

  • The impact of good (and bad) acoustics
  • Which microphones are there? And in which situation do you use which microphone?
  • Common (technical) mistakes that ruin your recordings, esp too much background noise
  • Remote recording (via Zoom, for example)
  • Software suggestions (including podbean and audacity)
  • How to get started if you have zero technical knowledge (hint: use your phone)

Assignment for tomorrow:

Tonight, students record voices: themselves, experts, neighbors, family, friends, anyone you can find. Then they make a 3-minute set of highlights from these raw recordings. The quality can be rough – the important part is to find the voices of the story. No music, no sound effects, no filters: just the original voices saying interesting things.

Session 3: Finding your voice(s)

Before this session, students record voices and edit a 3-minute set of highlights from these raw recordings. (No music, no sound effects, just voiceovers telling a story)Intro: where can students find sound effects and music?

Let’s ignore copyright restrictions for this class

Normally not allowed, but for this class, you can rip music from spotify or youtube

If you don’t know how to do that, or don’t want to break copyright rules, then here are some links:

  • Free sound-effects library
  • Free music library

Each student will present their rough 3-minute work in progress. We’ll talk about how to turn these voices (or sometimes it’s just one voice) into a podcast, where to find music, sound effects, how to record background sounds, how to balance the different ingredients, how to fill in missing links, or get that one crucial interview/viewpoint/sentence/word. Cutting and cleaning up your audio is also discussed. What if it’s too long? How to tidy it up, make it shorter, and even how to use silence, pauses, and unexpected sounds.

  • More tips on editing audio
  • Using different types of audio
  • Cutting, selecting and moving clips
  • More about microphones
  • And more about background noise
  • Choosing music and sound effects

Add music and sound effects to your podcast, cannot exceed 5 minutes total

Session 4: Assembly/Montage/Editing

Before this session, students assemble their texts as 5 minute podcast including music, sound effects, and any other ingredients they want to use.

What now? We have a rough cut of each podcast, but it needs to be cleaner, smoother, simpler; or it needs to be more mysterious or more surprising. Is the podcast the artwork, or is it a documentary? Is it both? Is it a teaser or an explanation? Does it flow? We’ll ask these questions and explore some of the following techniques:

  • Fade in / out, levels
  • Noise reduction
  • Importing and exporting audio
  • Tips for bedding music underneath your podcast
  • audio logo (sign-in/sign-out)

final assignment:
the students will edit their work down to a 5 minute podcast


Editing Software

you can use any software you want for this class, as long as you know how it works already. (I’m a storyteller, not a techie, so this is not my expertise). And if you’re a beginner, and don’t have any audio software, then please download Audacity, which I will explain during the workshops.

if you have audio experience already, then there are lots of choices for you: Reaper and Ableton are preferred by journalists; musicians use Steinberg Cubase, Reaper, or many others. Beginners like Audacity or GarageBand. Podbean is fun on your telephone, and easy to use.


A phone is simplest microphone to use, and you’re welcome to use one to record audio.

Using your laptop is not recommended: the built-in mic is usually horrible.

An external mic is a good idea, but you don’t have to buy one for this class. If you have one already, then bring it. Here are some sample microphones that work well, at different prices:

  1. 1.Rode Podcasting mic
  2. Blue Yeti
  3. 4.


Voice-over: recording in the studio

Tape: sound on location

Atmos: sound design term for atmosphere. Also called ‘auditory backdrop’: the sound you hear in the background.

Point noise: specific noises that are not necessarily part of the atmosphere, but that happen in that place. Think of a barking dog.

Bedding: embedded music that is much quieter than your text, but acts as a background, creating emotions or movement

Spot fx: Point sounds that you record on the spot, to illustrate the action(s) of  character. For example, bumping into a trash can.

DAW Software (Digital Audio Workstations)