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What is Automation?

Automation is a Cinematic Concerto for Human and AI cellists that explores the complex relationship between man and machine.

Can a technically superior machine with no soul make music that moves us? How will humans feel if that machine can replace us?

Watch and listen as cellist Yves Dhar goes “bow-to-bow” onstage with holographic AI cellist A.G.N.E.S. (Automatic Generator Network of Excellent Songs) in this groundbreaking work by Emmy-winning, Grammy-nominated composer Adam Schoenberg that features cello, halldorophone, electronics, orchestra, and visual projections.

AUTOMATION was commissioned by Justin M. Sullivan, in honor of his son Alec Baker Sullivan.

Photo © Lindsay Adler

World Premiere

Audio / Photos

Live performance, April 17, 2022
Automation Cello Experience

Meet A.G.N.E.S.

A.G.N.E.S. (Automatic Generator Network of Excellent Songs) is an AI learning algorithm that composed an original cello part that is performed onstage by a 3D holographic cellist.

Watch a test clip of A.G.N.E.S. in Battle Mode >

Man vs. Machine Onstage:

Programmed by mathematicians Kathryn Leonard (Occidental College) and Ghassan Sarkis (Pomona College), A.G.N.E.S. analyzed four original scores by Adam Schoenberg for four months before outputting a freshly composed melodic line to be inserted as solo cello 2 in Automation. Listen to the two mathematicians discuss how A.G.N.E.S. works:


with Yves Dhar and Adam Schoenberg

I just watched the video. Looks cool!  But I have so many questions …
Excellent!  We’re glad we piqued your curiosity. Yves Dhar (Cellist and Producer) and Adam Schoenberg (Composer) are on hand to answer your questions below.
The promotional video looks like a trailer for a sci-fi film. Is Automation a movie?
Yves: — I’ve coined Automation as a “cinematic concerto,” or a “cine-con” if you’re into the whole brevity thing. That’s probably just as confusing, eh?  First and foremost, it’s a concerto, which is a traditional work of classical music that features one or more soloists accompanied by an orchestra. Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky all wrote many of them to showcase the star musicians of their days (or sometimes even themselves). Adam and I decided we wanted to push the concerto into the 21st century and bring in some film-like elements. Visual projections on a screen. Lighting. Electronics and Sound FX to mix in with the acoustic orchestra. So, no, Automation isn’t really a film, but since it has some stuff like one, we’re calling it a “cinematic concerto” that you experience in the concert hall instead of the movie theater.
So is that where the “holographic AI counterpart” comes in?  Is it going to be like Tupac at Coachella back in 2012?
Yves Dhar
Adam Schoenberg

Yves Dhar photo © Lindsay Adler / Adam Schoenberg photo © Sam Zauscher


Connect with Yves Dhar and the team behind AUTOMATION for booking or press enquiries.

Journalistic Bullet Points

AUTOMATION is a commissioned work composed by Adam Schoenberg for cello, halldorophone, electronics, and orchestra with visual projections that features cellist Yves Dhar and a holographic AI counterpart interacting onstage with Teddy Abrams and the Louisville Orchestra. Dubbed a “cinematic concerto” because it adds film-like elements to the traditional concert hall experience, Automation explores the complex relationship between man and machine, the intersection between acoustic and electronic music, and the overlap between film and concert music.

The foundation of the holographic cellist’s part was composed by a specially designed AI algorithm that “learned” Adam’s music and generated original content that was placed unaltered in the score. The part was then pre-recorded by Yves, processed through synthesizers and quantized to create an acoustic/electronic hybrid sound that is played back live and synced with the holographic cellist’s movements.

The hologram is produced by 2D digital images projected onto a Holonet (made by Kaleida), a special highly reflective near-transparent scrim, which makes the projections appear 3D in nature. Musicians on stage can interact with the projections.

A halldorophone, a cello-like electro-acoustic feedback instrument, was specially commissioned for this work by Occidental College and will make its world premiere as a solo instrument with orchestra. The halldorophone is featured in Oscar-Winning composer Hildur Gudnadottir’s scores for Joker and Arrival and can best be described as a drone-like instrument that produces distortion, frequency beats, feedback, and rich overtones.

Yves and Adam, friends from their doctoral studies at Juilliard, produced this project over 5 years to attract younger audiences to the concert hall and to be relevant to mainstream conversation today.  

AUTOMATION was commissioned by Justin M. Sullivan, in honor of his son Alec Baker Sullivan.

Yves Dhar

Captivating audiences with his lush tone “that might be described as something akin to rich old wood” (Boston Musical Intelligencer), Yves Dhar has earned a worldwide reputation as a “technically and interpretatively outstanding” (STRAD) cellist.  Known for his charm, innovation, and innate ability to connect with audiences, the Franco-American is invited by leading orchestras, presenters and arts organizations to perform, inspire and innovate on the world’s major stages.

In 2021/22, Dhar returns to stage with a focus on premiering new projects developed in quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic.  At the forefront of these fresh productions is the ground-breaking Automation, a cinematic concerto for cello, halldorophone, electronics, and visual projections, composed by Adam Schoenberg, to be premiered with Teddy Abrams and the Louisville Orchestra in May 2022.  Automation features Dhar as live soloist pitted against a holographic AI cellist as the work explores the complex relationships between humans and artificial intelligence.

Dhar also co-produced Strings of Life, a work for solo cello, electronics, and visual projections, in collaboration with composer Ricardo Romaneiro and visual artist Mauricio Ceppi, to be premiered in June 2022 at the Cell NYC.  With solo cello surrounded by a quadrophonic sound system and immersed among hanging strings of fabric that light up with videomapped projections, Strings of Life is a live audiovisual exploration of the emotions – denial, anxiety, isolation, virtual connectedness – we all experienced under quarantine.

Past highlights include appearances at Carnegie Hall, and Lincoln Center (New York); the Kennedy Center (DC); Orchestra Hall, Ravinia Festival, and Chicago Cultural Center (Chicago); Disney Hall (LA); National Arts Center (Ottawa); Berliner Festspiele; Téatro Nacional (Dominican Republic); Panama Jazz Festival; Centro Cultural Kirchner (Buenos Aires), COEX Theater (Seoul), and the Thailand National Cultural Center (Bangkok).  Dhar has featured as soloist with the orchestras of Houston, Green Bay, Edmonton, Florida, Dominican Republic, Córdoba (Argentina), and Juilliard, with which he performed William Schuman’s A Song of Orpheus at David Geffen (Avery Fisher) Hall as part of the Juilliard School’s Centennial Celebration in 2006.

Dhar is equally in demand as a chamber musician and has collaborated with artists such as Sir Simon Rattle, Itzhak Perlman, Miriam Fried, Christian Tetzlaff, Cho-Liang Lin, Gilbert Kalish, Ralph Kirshbaum, Mischa Dichter, Isabel Leonard, and members of the Emerson, Cleveland, Guarneri, and Orion Quartets.  Outside the classical world, he has shared the stage with Christina Aguilera, Sting, Arijit Singh, Vampire Weekend, Tony Bennett, Dennis DeYoung (Styx), Chick Corea, Robin Williams, and Bert from Sesame Street. He has recorded over 30 albums in collaboration with other artists and has appeared, recorded and written for TV, film and ads (Annie; Allure; HBO’s The Plot Against America; Budweiser, Disney, VISA, Micoli Studio).

Dhar is a founding member of the genre-defying Bohemian Trio and the cutting-edge Secret Quartet.  He followed his passion for arts advocacy, entrepreneurship and engaging new audiences as a fellow of Ensemble Connect (formerly ACJW), which featured life-changing presentations at Rikers Island, schools for special needs, children’s cancer wards, and NYC flash mobs.  He continues this work as a member of Decoda, the official affiliate ensemble of Carnegie Hall, and co-founded the nonprofit organizations New Docta (to nurture and mentor Latin American talent), and Cello Makes Everything Better (to make classical music more accessible and relevant to mainstream audiences).

Dr. Dhar joined the faculty of Vassar College in 2018.  He was a pupil of Aldo Parisot at Yale University where he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in History (Medieval Mediterranean Studies), a Master of Music, and an Artist Diploma.  He further studied in Joel Krosnick and Darrett Adkins’s studio at the Juilliard School where he earned his Doctor of Musical Arts degree and served as teaching assistant to Mr. Krosnick from 2006 to 2009.  He has also worked with Paul Katz at the New England Conservatory.  He plays an 1842 Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume cello.  In his leisure time, he loves to learn about and taste the great wines of Burgundy and Bordeaux, and is a zealous supporter of the Chicago Cubs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Arsenal FC.

Adam Schoenberg

Emmy Award-winning and Grammy® nominated Adam Schoenberg (b, November 15, 1980) has twice been named among the top 10 most performed living composers by orchestras in the United States. His works have received performances and premieres at the Library of Congress, Kennedy Center, New York Philharmonic, The Cleveland Orchestra, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and Hollywood Bowl.

Schoenberg has received commissions from several major American orchestras, including the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (Up! and La Luna Azul), Kansas City Symphony (American Symphony and Picture Studies), Los Angeles Philharmonic and Aspen Music Festival and School (Bounce), and San Francisco Symphony (Losing Earth). Other recent commissions include works for Carlos Miguel Prieto and Orquesta Sinfónica de Minería and Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, a violin concerto for Anne Akiko Meyers and the San Diego Symphony, Jerry Junkin and the University of Texas Wind Ensemble and Texas Performing Arts, and the first-ever two-piano concerto for the Dranoff International 2 Piano Foundation.

Adam Schoenberg received two 2018 Grammy® Award-nominations, including Best Contemporary Classical Composition for Picture Studies. He has been Composer-in-Residence with the Fort Worth Symphony (2015-17), Lexington Philharmonic (2013-14), Kansas City Symphony (2012-13), Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University (2012) and the Aspen Music Festival & School’s M.O.R.E Music Program (2010-13). He won several awards, including ASCAP’s Morton Gould Young Composer Award for his orchestra work Finding Rothko, the Palmer-Dixon Prize from The Juilliard School and the Brian M. Israel Prize from the Society for New Music. Additionally, he received the Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts & Letters in 2006 and the MacDowell Fellowship in both 2009 and 2010.

An accomplished and versatile film composer, Schoenberg participated in the 2017 Sundance Composers Lab, and has scored two feature-length films and several shorts. Highlights include That Far Corner: Frank Lloyd Wright in Los Angeles (recipient of a 2019 Emmy award for Best Musical Composition), and Graceland, co-written with his father, Steven Schoenberg, which premiered at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival and received its nationwide theatrical release in the spring of 2013. He also co-composed the new theme package for ABC’s NIGHTLINE.

A graduate of Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Schoenberg earned his Master’s and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from The Juilliard School, where he studied with Robert Beaser and John Corigliano. He is currently a professor at Occidental College, where he runs the composition and film scoring programs. He makes his home in Los Angeles with his wife, screenwriter Janine Salinas Schoenberg, and their two sons, Luca and Leo.

Teddy Abrams

An unusually versatile musician, Teddy Abrams is the widely-acclaimed Music Director of the Louisville Orchestra. Now in his eighth season as Music Director, Teddy has fostered interdisciplinary collaborations with the Louisville Ballet and Speed Art Museum, and lead Louisville’s cultural response to the pandemic with the Lift Up Lou initiative. Among other works, the 2021-22 season includes the world premieres of Teddy’s new piano concerto written for Yuja Wang and a concerto for timba band and orchestra composed by GRAMMY winner Dafnis Prieto. His rap-opera, The Greatest: Muhammad Ali, premiered in 2017, celebrating Louisville’s hometown hero with an all-star cast that included Rhiannon Giddens and Jubilant Sykes, as well as Jecorey “1200” Arthur, with whom he started the Louisville Orchestra Rap School. Abrams’ work with the Louisville Orchestra has been profiled on CBS Sunday Morning, NPR, The Wall Street Journal, PBS’ Articulate, and the PBS NewsHour. In recognition of his groundbreaking work, Teddy Abrams was named Musical America’s 2022 Conductor of the Year.

Teddy Abrams has been Music Director and Conductor of the Britt Festival Orchestra since 2013, where, in addition to an annual three-week festival of concerts, he has taken the orchestra across the region in the creation of new work—including Michael Gordon’s Natural History, which was premiered on the edge of Crater Lake National Park in partnership with the National Parks Service, and was the subject of the PBS documentary Symphony for Nature; and Pulitzer Prize-winning-composer Caroline Shaw’s Brush, an experiential work written to be performed in Summer 2021 on the Jacksonville Woodlands Trail system.

Abrams recently collaborated with Jim James, vocalist and guitarist for My Morning Jacket, on the song cycle The Order of Nature, which they premiered with the Louisville Orchestra in 2018 and recorded on Decca Gold. They performed the work with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center in 2019.

Teddy Abrams records on Universal Music Group’s Decca Gold Label. In addition to The Order of Nature, Teddy and the Louisville Orchestra recorded All In in 2017 with vocalist Storm Large. Teddy’s most recent recording was an original track, “Fourth Mode,” as part of UMG’s World Sleep Day. 

As a guest conductor, Teddy has worked with such distinguished ensembles as the Los Angeles Philharmonic; the Chicago, San Francisco, National, Houston, Pacific, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Vancouver, Colorado, Utah, and Phoenix Symphonies; Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra; and the Sarasota and Florida Orchestras. Internationally, he has worked with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, and the Malaysian Philharmonic. He served as Assistant Conductor of the Detroit Symphony from 2012-2014. From 2008 to 2011, Abrams was the Conducting Fellow and Assistant Conductor of the New World Symphony.

Alex Brinkley

Alex Brinkley is an American composer and sound designer based out of Los Angeles. His eclectic upbringing in the arts had him playing saxophone in jazz ensembles, tuba as part of Drum Corps International, and guitar in rock n roll bands. Throughout his various musical interests, the one constant was an involvement in recorded media and music technology.

At a young age, Alex built a home studio to record his own music and local talent in his hometown of Seattle, WA. In his early 20’s, he worked in live music as an audio engineer mixing musicals and concerts in the greater Pacific Northwest. In 2016, he combined his talents in music and audio engineering to build a new career as a composer for visual media.

Upon shifting careers, Alex enrolled at Columbia College Chicago and studied music composition with Grammy-nominated composer Ilya Levinson. During his time there, Alex’s tone poem At My Chamber Door was performed by Ensemble Concept 21. Additionally, he arranged several pieces to be performed by the Seattle Cascades Drum & Bugle Corps as part of their national tours in 2017 and 2018. Upon graduation, he enrolled in the college’s Master of Fine Art program in Music Composition for the Screen under Kubilay Uner.

Over the past three years, Alex has assisted on films such as American Traitor staring Al Pacino, Force of Nature with Mel Gibson, and was the scoring mixer for Christmas Sail. Since moving to Los Angeles in 2021, he has worked for composers such as Michael Stein (Stranger Things), Genevieve Vincent (Fantasy Island), and Paul Broucek (President of Music at Warner Bros. Pictures). Alex recently took a full-time position for the composer Nathan Barr. Under Nathan, Alex works as a technical assistant and has been designing new instruments to be used in shows such as The Great, Carnival Row, as well as upcoming studio films.

Gabriel Bethke

Gabriel Bethke is a Minneapolis born electronic music composer who has been based out of Los Angeles since 2012.

He has worked on composition for both contemporary electronic albums and television scores. His style verges on the boundaries between space and time. 

Bethke got his start in the independent rap scene in Minneapolis, Minnesota with artists such as Dessa, Psalm One, The Hood Internet, Sims, Lady Midnight and Lazerbeak. He is currently part of the production duo Night Stone.

His work has been featured in video games and advertisements. 

Bethke is now breaking into the tech industry with the goal of innovatively combining software development and sound design.

Mauricio Ceppi

Ascension through Sensory Stimulation

A visual artist for the last 20 years, has been an essential part of the Electronic Music Scene since the early 90’s. As CEO of Funktaxi 1533, one of the most known visual collectives from NYC, his work has been exhibited in galleries, museums, clubs, and festivals around the world. Has exhibited in the: 1995 Purple Gallery (LA), VI Salon Pirelli de Jóvenes Artistas Museo de arte Contemporáneo de Caracas Vzla 1997, World Fair in Portugal 1998 for Amazonian Project Fashion show Portugal World Fair,  V Salon Pirelli de Jóvenes Artistas Museo de arte Contemporáneo de Caracas Vzla 1999,  VI Bienal de Arte Visuales Christian Dior Corp Group Centro Cultural. Caracas Vzla 1999, Anthology Film Archives Gallery and theatre (NYC)1999, “Esto es Venus o Caracas”. Sala Mendoza Caracas. Caracas / Vzla 2000, Artist Space (NYC) 2000, CBGB’ Gallery (NYC) 2001, Exit Art Gallery (NYC) 2001, 2011 “Aleatorios. Una perspectiva del video arte en Venezuela.” Museo del arte contemporánea de Caracas . Caracas /Vzla, 2012 Aleatorios. Una perspectiva del arte Venezolano XI Velada de Santa Lucía . Maracaibo / Vzla , 2016 Aleatorios . Festival Bajo Techo . museo de Arte Contemporáneo del Zulia Maczul Maracaibo /Vzla, 2017 Aleatorios . Sala multimedia . Museo de Arte Contemporáneo del Zulia Maczul , Lake of Red, In collaboration with Shamel Pitts and Ricardo Romaneiro, Vinegar Factory Feb 2019. NYC, NY,  Maracaibo /Vzla, 2020 “Video Arte Móvil “ Circuito Gran Cine . Caracas /Vzla. Lake of Red,  Dance and videtart visual part of the official selection for: Cannes Short Film Festival 2020, Fifth Wall Fest 2020, Montreal Independent Film Festival 2020, Aleatorios 2020.

Ryan Wise

Founded by Ryan Wise, DASYSTEM has been a media chameleon for over two decades with clients worldwide in print, broadcast, & film.