• Illuminations 2022/23: Human and Machine
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2022/23 Season

Illuminations: “Human and Machine”

Illuminations connects groundbreaking UC Berkeley scholarship to themes taken up by the world-class music, dance, and theater presented by Cal Performances. Illuminations programming, which includes performances, panel discussions, lecture demonstrations, Q&As, and more, sheds light on pressing topics with the power to transform our understanding of the world and shape the future.

Through the 2022–23 season theme “Human and Machine,” Illuminations explores the many roles technology plays in both catalyzing and challenging creative expression and human communication. Onstage performances, public programs, and conversations will engage communities on and off campus to explore how the arts, the humanities, and the sciences grapple with the influence of technology on human expression. Through six main stage performances and even more educational events held in partnership with thought leaders, Illuminations programming follows the evolution of musical instruments, the complex relationships between technology creators and users, technology’s impact on the creative process, and the benefits and potential dangers of the growing role of artificial intelligence in our society.

Learn more about “Human and Machine’s” Artist Partner and Design Committee.

Human and Machine Song Contest

Human and Machine song Contest

Cal Performances’ Illuminations series invites you to explore the boundaries of humanity’s artistic collaboration with technology by creating your own original song or composition that uses technology as an integral part of the creative process. The contest is open to all — composers, songwriters, philosophers, musicians, singers, computer/data scientists, ethicists, engineers, producers, artists, architects, futurists etc. — with at least one member of each song team a current UC Berkeley Student, Faculty or Staff member. Submission deadline is April 2, 2023.

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Illuminations: “Human and Machine” Public Programming

Edmund Campion

Edmund Campion: Human / Expression / Emotion / Technology / Machine / Me
Nov 3, 12:45pm

In this discussion, Edmund Campion, the Director of Berkeley’s Center for New Music and Audio Technologies (CNMAT), traces a recurring story of human/technology disruptions that continue to upend and transform music and music making up to our current moment. Free and open to the public.

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So Percussion

Inside the Creative Process with Sō Percussion
Nov 13, 10–11:30am
Zellerbach Hall

Join Sō Percussion ensemble members for a look at the creative and rehearsal process they used to prepare for their prior evening’s performance. Free and open to the public with registration.

Learn More & Register

So Percussion

Making Music with Technology
Nov 13
Zellerbach Hall

Sō Percussion gives an in-depth look via a hands-on workshop at their approach to making organic music with technology. Private event for invited UC Berkeley music students only.

2022/23 Season Illuminations Performances

Recital, Illuminations: Human and Machine

Kristian Bezuidenhout, harpsichord and fortepianos

Oct 30, 2022, 3pm

Keyboard virtuoso Kristian Bezuidenhout has programmed a recital that illustrates the evolution of the keyboard predecessors of the
modern piano, celebrating these instruments as gloriously man-made inventions and marvels of human ingenuity.

New Music, Illuminations: Human and Machine, Percussion Festival

Colin Currie Group
Synergy Vocals

A Steve Reich Celebration

Colin Currie, conductor and percussion

Nov 3, 2022, 7:30pm

Percussionist Colin Currie’s acclaimed ensemble is devoted to realizing the musical vision of Steve Reich, the maverick minimalist composer whose innovations and experimentation went on to redefine the sound of 21st-century chamber music.

New Music, Illuminations: Human and Machine, Percussion Festival

Sō Percussion

Nov 12, 2022, 8pm

Sō Percussion navigates the addition of novel sounds—noisemakers, computer timekeeping devices, pre-recorded samples and loops—and unseen electronic collaborators into their performance environment to realize works exploring complex human emotions.

Theater/Opera, Illuminations: Human and Machine

Performed by William Kentridge

Mar 10, 2023, 8pm

William Kentridge embodies the spirit of Dada in this performance piece based on the seminal 1932 sound poem Ursonate—a poetic and musical work by renowned artist Kurt Schwitters.

Theater/Opera, Illuminations: Human and Machine

A Guided Tour of the Exhibition: For Soprano and Handbag
Performed by Joanna Dudley

Mar 15, 2023, 7:30pm

This bold and innovative presentation, created by William Kentridge and soprano Joanna Dudley, combines live art, drama, film, and sculpture as Dudley conducts an immersive exhibition tour in which artworks are empowered to speak for themselves.

Theater/Opera, Illuminations: Human and Machine

William Kentridge’s

US Premiere

With music composed and conceived by Nhlanhla Mahlangu and Kyle Shepherd

Mar 17–19, 2023

In his meticulously crafted new chamber opera, revered South African artist William Kentridge connects ancient wisdom with modern data-tracking and ruminates on the role of algorithms in contemporary life.

Theater/Opera, Illuminations: Human and Machine, New Music

Michel van der Aa’s
Blank Out

West Coast Premiere

Apr 28–29, 2023

In composer and producer Michel van der Aa’s genre-defying chamber opera Blank Out, video and electronic music techniques entwine to invoke the textured, fragmented experience of processing personal tragedy and loss.

Theater/Opera, Illuminations: Human and Machine

Octavia E. Butler’s
Parable of the Sower

Bay Area Premiere

May 5–6, 2023

Octavia E. Butler’s dystopian novel Parable of Sower is realized as a congregational opera by the daughter/mother musical team of Toshi Reagon and Bernice Johnson Reagon, exploring humanity’s attempts to recover and heal itself after its dependence on technology has gone too far.

More About “Human and Machine”

Artist Partner

Every year, we select an Artist Partner who embodies the intersection of the arts and our Illuminations theme to help frame our public and campus-facing programs, such as Q&As, master classes, lecture demonstrations, and more. This year’s “Human and Machine” artist partner is Colm Ó Riain. Colm is a professional violinist, composer, and the Head of Growth at the Machine Intelligence Research Institute. Colm is particularly interested in the places where creativities meet — between myriad human cultures as well as between humans and our machines, especially artificial intelligence.

Design Committee

Our Illuminations Design Committee is made up of UC Berkeley faculty, staff, and students, each with relevant expertise to our theme. Through their involvement, Cal Performances is able to curate a much richer series of public and campus-facing programs that encapsulates UC Berkeley research and speaks directly to our campus community.