Carnegie Mellon University
March 20, 2013

Press Release: Carnegie Mellon's School of Drama Students Shed New Light On Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra "Mercury Soul" Event

Contact: Pam Wigley / 412-268-1047 /

PITTSBURGH-The Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra are making music together this spring, blending classically trained virtuosity and technical prowess to create a hybrid event that's unlike any other symphony performance.

The collaboration is part of Mercury Soul, a musical event that "re-imagines the classical music experience in extraordinary spaces," according to the PSO website. The performance takes place Friday, April 5, at STATIC in the Strip District. Doors open at 9 p.m., and tickets are $20.

Mercury Soul, which first launched in San Francisco in 2008, melds contemporary classical music with the "thumping beat" of PSO's Composer of the Year, DJ Masonic (Mason Bates), and the event gives audience members the freedom to dance, roam and experience music and visual arts in a club setting. Pittsburgh is the fourth city to host an event.

For CMU students, it provides the chance to show their skills in design lighting and interactive video that serve as a backdrop to the entire show. The audience can get in on the act with a smartphone app that gives people the ability to stream live video from their phones to the performance display system, allowing real-time participatory video during the show.

"The CMU designers have focused on the theme of 'bridging' to highlight both the unique combination of classical and electronic music of the Mercury Soul project, as well as the collaboration between the PSO and CMU in Pittsburgh - the City of Bridges," said Larry Shea, an associate professor of video & media design. "The design merges striking time-lapsed video of Pittsburgh, architecturally mapped projections, live performance video and evocative programmed lighting."

School of Drama design students who are working with Mercury Soul's director Anne Patterson on the project are: Dan Efros, Yinchao Teng, Justin Keenan Miller, Sarah Parker, Song Zhang, Andrew Schmedake, Charles Dabezies, Jackson Gallagher, Jordan Harrison, Evan Shimizu and Jonathan Mark.  CMU Stage Management faculty member Tina Shackleford will manage the onsite event with student assistants Jody Cohen, AJ Cook, Sophia Mysel and Tim Sutter.

Shea said that several other faculty advisers in the School of Drama worked with students to prepare them for Mercury Soul, notably Cindy Limauro, professor of lighting design; Buzz Miller, a video & media design technician; and C. Todd Brown, assistant teaching professor of lighting design. He also thanked d3 Technologies for allowing use of their media server, and Vincent Lighting Systems and Three Rivers Entertainment for their "generous" equipment rentals.

"It was a team effort and it's been a great experience for everyone," Shea said. "We hope to have a big crowd April 5 to experience our students' work with the symphony."

For more information on tickets, visit the PSO website. Attendees must be 21 years of age or older.