Wild River Review
Wild River Review
Connecting People, Places, and Ideas: Story by Story
May 2010
Open Borders

February 11, 2009

What Exactly is a Laptop Orchestra, Anyway? And who is Perry Cook?

Filed under: WRR@LARGE — Tags: , , , , , , , — joystocke @ 3:07 pm


by Joy E. Stocke

I met Perry Cook nearly three years ago in a temporary sculpture garden called Quark Park near the Princeton University Campus in Princeton, New Jersey.  Wild River Review’s Executive Editor, Kim Nagy, had brought me there to write about the exhibits, one of which was a beautiful granite lithophone sculpted by Jonathan Shor.

What made Quark Park unique and an inspiration to those of us who saw it, was the collaboration of landscape designers, artists and scientists. Shor and Cook’s lithophone stood out for a number of reasons: its beauty, the gorgeous recording Cook made of Shor’s process, plus the fact that the lithophone was miked and anyone could play it at will. Thus, we all became composers creating original pieces of music that through the magic of stone and amplification sounded damned good.

Cook was and is irrepressible, a man who can write code and turn it into aural poetry, who has been mentor to many, and a consumate collaborator. The Princeton Laptop Orchestra PLOrk, which he created with Dan Trueman is an example of an artistic, and dare I say, spiritual truth: In collaboration, a creation becomes greater than its parts.  And in the creation of music, a composer is only as good as the orchestra that interprets his or her works. Cook has been good enough to earn a Guggenheim Fellowship and PLOrk has been good enough to earn a MacArthur grant. 

Likewise, the staff of Wild River Review are well enough behaved to earn the privilege of following Cook and his merry band of composers and laptop musicians through their spring semester.

WRR@Large looks forward to bringing you along with us. Cook, Trueman, their students and special guests, some of the more interesting names in music, will help us untangle the all-important question, What exactly is PLOrk?

Joy E. Stocke is editor in chief of Wild River Review.

To find out more about PLOrk, read here: Up The Creek.

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