AI to compose classical music live in concert – with over 100 musicians

30 September 2019, 16:57

Sergey Smbatyan, conductor of the ‘World Orchestra’
Sergey Smbatyan, conductor of the ‘World Orchestra’. Picture: Getty

By Helena Asprou

A visionary performance in Armenia will feature a live, AI-composed orchestral score, performed by musicians from around the world.

The World Congress of Information Technology (WCIT) has announced that it will be hosting its first concert to be composed entirely by artificial intelligence.

The innovative outdoor concert takes place in Armenia as part of the organisation’s opening ceremony, and will be performed by the ‘World Orchestra’.

Specially formed for the event, the orchestra has been made up of more than 100 professional musicians – including 75 from orchestras in the 14 countries that previously hosted WCIT, and 30 from the Armenia State Symphony Orchestra.

The unique ensemble will be led by Sergey Smbatyan, a virtuoso violinist and Principal Conductor of the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra, who also came up with the idea for the show.

The talented collective will be performing two works in total – but unlike many other classical concerts (where the pieces are learnt by musicians beforehand), these will both be written live by AI and then played in real-time.

The first AI piece will be inspired by the national anthems of the 15 previous host countries, while the second will be composed from a database of traditional Armenian chants.

These chants are typically melismatic, monophonic melodies used in the liturgy of the Armenian Apostolic Church, which use a specific rhythmic pattern and consist mainly of hymns.

In order to perform the compositions, AI technology will transmit each musical part to electronic tablets on the players’ stands – as it’s being written.

The bright initiative will be tested out during rehearsals, but if all goes well then this is surely another exciting step forward for music and technology.

Smbatyan said: “This ambitious creative endeavour will explore uncharted territory, creating symbiosis where art, culture, and technology meet.

“I like to call this type of AI ‘Artificial Talent’, as it brings together these two definitive fields. The whole world will witness this extraordinary fusion of music and technology, and gives us the opportunity to showcase the power of music.

“The creation of this orchestra underlines the importance of culture within the technology sphere, and once again proves that music transcends boundaries and does not recognise nationality.”

A WCIT spokesperson added: “The world has witnessed AI make developments and improvements in spheres such as mechanical engineering and transportation. Now, this orchestra and this concert will convey a powerful message to the world – they’ll demonstrate new horizons for the future of art, science and engineering all working together.

“We’re thrilled to have the first ever musical project at WCIT, and we think the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra are the perfect musicians to execute such an ambitious venture.”

The WCIT’s opening ceremony is free to attend and will be held between 6 and 9 October. To find out more, visit