An Interview with Composer Peter Xifaras on “Dystopian World” –

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On this interview, classical composer Peter Xifaras discusses the intricate themes behind his newest album, “Dystopian World.” Impressed by George Orwell’s 1984, Xifaras confronts trendy points reminiscent of surveillance, freedom of speech, and data manipulation via his music. His work blends conventional orchestration with up to date recording methods, making a soundscape that speaks to in the present day’s societal challenges. The album makes a strong inventive assertion whereas encouraging listeners to mirror on the urgent problems with our time, highlighting the relevance of classical music in up to date discourse.

Peter Xifaras, it’s a pleasure to sit down down with you to debate your upcoming classical album, Dystopian World. The title offers loads of clues to the underpinning themes of the album, however we’d like to know the motivation that drove you to compose such a viscerally heartrending launch.

It isn’t all too widespread for classical composers to sort out themes of social change of their work. In your opinion, why is classical music a great means for opening an existential dialogue and spreading consciousness that we’re successfully sleepwalking into obsoletion? 

The explanation I selected this medium for the venture is two-fold:

The album offers with dystopian themes infiltrating society which can be of serious relevance in the present day, particularly with younger folks given current occasions across the globe.  Therefore, by messaging these thought-provoking ideas by way of classical music, it presents a singular alternative to show this style to a youthful viewers who could have by no means considered giving this fashion of music any consideration.

Secondly, I feel when most individuals consider classical music, Bach, Beethoven and Mozart instantly come to thoughts. Nonetheless, there are composers within the ‘classical’ area that incorporate trendy recording methods reminiscent of electronics & loops with a conventional orchestra which have emerged in recent times. Dystopian World does incorporate a few of these trendy methods, as well as, the compositions are introduced in bite-size chunks in 2 to 4-minute tracks to maintain the viewers engaged – form of how rock & pop music is introduced on a playlist or album.

How does the album slot in together with your day-to-day worldview? 

My day-to-day world view is altering day-to-day! And I’m in all probability not the one one. In my view, George Orwell’s fictional work, 1984, has change into a actuality within the dystopian state of our present world through surveillance expertise, freedom of speech, info manipulation, censorship, redefining language, privateness erosion, propaganda, individuality, groupthink, and the worth of reality.

A Google search revealed most of the speaking factors under from which writings from these sources are introduced as follows:

SURVEILLANCE: The proliferation of surveillance expertise has surpassed something Orwell might have imagined. As folks change into extra reliant on expertise, the potential for abuse grows with the power to trace people’ actions, behaviors, and even conversations, each on-line and offline (suppose Amazon Echo, Google Residence, Siri, Good TV’s that pay attention, Apple air tags). This invasive surveillance infrastructure evokes the omnipresent “Huge Brother”. Though AI expertise holds nice promise for societal progress, it additionally comes with important dangers that echo the Orwellian themes

FREEDOM OF SPEECH: One other important facet of Orwell’s “1984” is the suppression of freedom of speech. There’s a sample of accelerating censorship on social media platforms, with dissenting voices silenced and marginalized. This chilling development results in narrowing public discourse, creating an surroundings the place impartial thought turns into more and more uncommon. In some instances, governments and firms wield their energy to silence critics and whistleblowers, whereas in others, people self-censor out of worry of social backlash. This stifling ambiance resonates with the oppressive regime portrayed in “1984”.

INFORMATION MANIPULATION: In “1984,” the federal government manipulated info to regulate the populace. In the present day, we face an analogous problem with the unfold of misinformation and disinformation on-line. Social media algorithms prioritize sensational content material, contributing to a distorted notion of actuality and undermining belief in establishments. Deliberate campaigns to sow confusion and doubt additional exacerbate this situation as malicious actors exploit the digital panorama to advance their agendas. This manipulation of data echoes the actions of Orwell’s fictional authorities, which rewrites historical past and fabricates information to keep up its grip on energy. AI expertise can be being employed to watch and management on-line info movement. Algorithms can routinely detect and take away inappropriate or offensive content material, probably suppressing free speech. Whereas this expertise is commonly used with good intentions, reminiscent of combating hate speech and misinformation, highly effective entities may abuse it to silence dissenting voices and manipulate public opinion.

PRIVACY EROSION: As people lose management over their digital footprint, the potential for manipulation and coercion will increase. Invasive information assortment practices and weak privateness protections have left people weak to identification theft, focused promoting, and authorities surveillance. This lack of privateness mirrors the intrusive monitoring of residents in “1984,” the place each facet of life was topic to scrutiny and management.

PROPAGANDA: In the present day we see the pervasive affect of propaganda via promoting, political campaigns, and media manipulation. The appearance of deep pretend expertise has launched unprecedented sophistication to propaganda efforts, permitting for the creation of convincing however fully fabricated audio and visible content material. This manipulation of notion and actuality parallels the techniques employed by Orwell’s fictional authorities, which makes use of propaganda to form public opinion and suppress all dissent.

CONFORMIST SOCIETY: The pressures of social media and the expectation to adapt to sure beliefs can result in the lack of individuality. Folks could really feel compelled to current curated variations of themselves, stifling their genuine self-expression. As people try to suit societal expectations, they danger shedding their distinctive identities and views. This suppression of individuality aligns with Orwell’s portrayal of a society the place private expression is discouraged and collective conformity is enforced.

GROUPTHINK: In the present day, the prevalence of echo chambers on social media platforms may promote groupthink, resulting in a polarized society the place dissent is vilified and important considering is discouraged. This fragmentation of public discourse contributes to ideological bubbles, the place people encompass themselves with like-minded folks and reinforce their present beliefs. Consequently, society turns into more and more divided. AI may affect individuality and groupthink in delicate methods. Personalised social media and search engine algorithms can create echo chambers, reinforcing people’ beliefs and biases. This will enhance polarization and conformity, as individuals are much less uncovered to numerous views and concepts. On this context, AI could inadvertently contribute to the suppression of individuality and the promotion of groupthink, just like the dynamics in Orwell’s dystopian society.

VALUE OF TRUTH: Orwell’s “1984” portrays a world the place goal reality is disregarded in favor of government-sanctioned narratives. In the present day, we face the problem of distinguishing reality from falsehood amidst misinformation. As the worth of reality diminishes, societies danger falling prey to manipulation and deception. The emergence of the time period “post-truth” signifies this troubling development, because it means that emotional appeals and private beliefs have overtaken goal information in shaping public opinion. On this period of other information and faux information, the pursuit of reality turns into a frightening activity, harking back to the fixed battle confronted by the protagonist in “1984” to discern actuality from fabrications.

The place and the way was Dystopian World recorded? 

The primary Orchestra was recorded in Prague by the Czech Nationwide Symphony Orchestra, Vladimir Martinka, conductor. Residing within the USA, I selected to attend the recording by way of a distant Zoom session versus flying to Prague. That is all coordinated through Musiversal who units up the recording session, orchestra occasions, and many others. For this session, I labored with Rita Tulha, Enrico Fallea, Alex Palmer, Jan Kotzmann & Vitek Kral – a terrific bunch of oldsters. The solo violin components had been recorded by Xander Nichting in Belgium at Violin-Tracks. Xander is a multi-talented artist who additionally carried out on my earlier jazz-fusion launch on electrical violin. After all of the tracks had been recorded, I edited, organized & blended them by way of my studio at Music With No Expiration®. The ultimate section of the method was to work with Michael Cuneo over at NeverNever Music Manufacturing in Los Angeles the place the tracks had been Mastered.

What was essentially the most gratifying a part of bringing this album to fruition?

I’m huge on marrying music with video & movie. I feel when each are mixed, the messaging then explodes. Every monitor on ‘Dystopian World’ has its personal music video  – so for me, when this comes collectively, the top result’s the head of gratification as all of the items lastly match collectively that had been as soon as solely an idea in my thoughts.

How would you just like the album to be acquired? 

Hopefully, the music is acquired in a constructive gentle, and the messaging acquired as a warning. As George Orwell said, “Don’t let it occur, it’s as much as you”.

Focusing in your composition fashion, what units you aside out of your contemporaries? 

My final 3 albums have targeted on ‘music for social change’. ‘Youngsters Of Battle’, an album additionally recorded by the CNSO, targeted on youngsters who day by day are confronted with merely making an attempt to outlive within the battle zones of the world (i.e., Center East, Ukraine, Afghanistan), youngsters who’ve by no means had a selection and reside underneath the implications of selections made by rogue governments and dictators. ‘Fusion’, is a jazz fusion album that incorporates a music titled Whereas My Guitar Weeps For Mehdi Rajabian. Mehdi was imprisoned in Iran for making music deemed unacceptable by the federal government the place he was overwhelmed & tortured and got here near dying. The music was devoted to him celebrating his bravery. Mehdi went on to change into the primary musician to win the United Nation’s worldwide artwork contest for minority artists. Now with my present launch, ‘Dystopian World’, I as soon as once more have an album that features a  ‘music for social change’ component to it. Compositionally, the music of those albums are dramatic and all comprise highly effective social messaging – maybe that’s what units the fashion aside from others.

What’s subsequent for Peter Xifaras?

I’m going to lighten it up a bit and launch variations on a melody as timeless as time itself initially written within the 16th century. The work has already been recorded and I’ll start work on enhancing, mixing & arranging in all probability within the Autumn. I’m additionally going to launch some singles through my symphoneX Orchestra® venture that’s cross-over in nature with some very cool visitor artists collaborating.

Anybody concerned about testing ‘Dystopian World’ can go to this hyperlink:

Interview by Amelia Vandergast

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