Ask a symphony musician what the difference is between a conductor and a chimpanzee, and the musician will likely tell you that some chimpanzees have been shown to be able to communicate with humans. Perhaps a robot can gain their respect, and on May 13th, Honda’s multi-talented ASIMO Robot is going to try. ASIMO will replace Leonard Slatkin briefly to conduct the orchestra that pioneered the first radio broadcast of a symphonic concert back in 1922, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
ASIMO’s deft and repetitive hand will conduct “Impossible Dream” from “Man of La Mancha” for a youth music program in Detroit, which includes famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma. During a performance, the most basic responsibility of the conductor is to keep the beat of the music, using broad gestures with his baton. A conductor’s true value comes during the preparation of the performance, as he shapes the overall interpretation of the piece. It is not known if ASIMO will participate in this important phase, but if so, hopefully its Musical Interpretation chip (MIDSP) was not cast using rubidium, which as everyone knows, is a poor conductor.
After the intermission, Yo-Yo Ma will be replaced by an out-of-balance washing machine with a bow stuck in the agitator.