Opening Concert of the World Congress of Information Technology in Armenia

Sunday 6th October 8pm AMT (4pm GMT)

Tonight [Sunday 06 October] the WCIT World Orchestra, conducted by Sergey Smbatyan, performs the first ever concert of music written live by artificial intelligence

The WCIT World Orchestra is formed of more than 120 musicians from all over the world, including members of the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra

The concert opens this year’s World Congress of Information Technology, one of the largest IT events in the world, which is currently being held in Yerevan, Armenia

The concert highlights this years’ WCIT theme of artificial intelligence, and will also include state-of-the-art visualisations appearing behind the orchestra as they perform

Tonight [06 October 2019] in Yerevan, Armenia, the first ever concert of AI-written music is being performed in which the musicians perform the score live as it is composed. The WCIT World Orchestra, which consists of over 120 musicians from 15 countries, will perform a piece of music composed by artificial intelligence for an audience of spectators in Republic Square, Yerevan.

The special composition will be written on the spot by the new technology – developed specifically for this concert. Using machine-learning, the technology has been fed thousands of pieces of traditional Armenian music over an eight-month period in order to create a new Armenian-style piece for the opening ceremony of WCIT 2019.

The musicians will receive the AI-composed scores live onto individual iPads as it is being composed, which they, plus conductor Sergey Smbatayan, will sight-read live for the audience. They have practiced the process with the technology in rehearsals, but the first time they see this particular composition will be on stage this evening.

One Armenian spectator watching the rehearsal said, “The music really captures the Armenian spirit. It’s so amazing that technology has the capacity to do this, and I’m so excited for everyone to see this happening live tonight.”

The concert officially opens the 2019 World Congress of Information Technology (WCIT), which is being held in Yerevan for the first time, marking the Congress’ 15th year. A key topic for WCIT 2019 is artificial intelligence and this year’s speakers include leaders from the world’s biggest tech companies including Microsoft, Pixar, Intel, VMware, Siemens and Reddit alongside international media representatives such as Kim Kardashian West.

This is the first time the Congress has ever included a music-related project.

Sergey Smbatyan, Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra, and founder of the WCIT World Orchestra, said, “This has been in the works for an incredibly long time. It’s taken 8 months and thousands of scores, and I’m so excited to show everyone the final product tonight. This machine has already been extremely successful in modelling Armenian music – it goes deeper into the music than any human ever could, and I have no doubt that the piece it will write this evening will be truly fantastic.”

As well as the live-composed AI piece, the Orchestra will also perform another AI-written ‘WCIT World anthem’, which is based on the Armenian national anthem, plus the anthems of every country that’s previously hosted WCIT. This piece has already been composed, and has been rehearsed by the orchestra.

Aside from the two AI-composed pieces, the concert will feature music showcasing all 15 of the previous WCIT host countries, as well as traditional Armenian compositions. The opening ceremony will also feature a performance from Grammy-nominated Dutch DJ, Armin van Buuren.

The World Congress of Information Technology 2019 is currently underway in Yerevan, and continues until 9th October.


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