Making music from the money markets
THE arts and science came together in a groundbreaking performance at the Mansion House in London courtesy of composer-in-residence at Plymouth University Alexis Kirke.
Open Outcry is the first ever financial reality opera, based on traditional stock market practices where trades are communicated by shouting and hand gesture.
Working with co-creator Greg Davies, Alexis recruited singers from the Elysian Ensemble Choir to take part in this unique show. The singers were taught the language of the stock market and then given real money to invest as they chose, on the proviso that all of their trades had to be sung. Alexis acted as conductor of the piece, creating financial booms and busts from the centre of the stage.
Alexis, who previously worked in the stock market, said: " I love the way that the trading floor combines technology and the raw human emotion of the desire for money".
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Based in the Marine Institute, Alexis took up the post of composer in residence in 2010. One of his first projects was Fast Travel, created with Sam Freeman and performed in the Levinsky building in 2011. Alexis used computer modelling to simulate the sounds and responses of humpbacked whales to a live saxophonist. The audience were surrounded by sounds that replicated the experience of being in the midst of a shoal of moving whales.
Incredibly, the computer model behind this creative work is now influencing scientists at Plymouth Marine Institute and St Andrews University; they are collaborating to study whale behaviour in the hope of reducing the harm caused by noise pollution. Whale song remains mysterious, with particular refrains passing between groups of whales across the world in ways that are still poorly understood.
Alexis is now working on his next project, the creation of a short film that will react to the responses of those watching. Audience members will be fitted with bio-signal systems that monitor their heart rate, brain waves and muscle tensions. If the monitors detect boredom, the plot will be cut short. If the participants remain interested and alert, a longer version will be shown. Alexis anticipates that this work could have huge application in Hollywood, making the boring bits of films a thing of the past.