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Ex Machina

March 20-22, 2024

Illustrated image of a piano surrounded by color and abstract, futuristic shapes

visually immersive program featuring eight world premieres written for the piano and two genre-crossing new collaborative works

EX MACHINA is an interdisciplinary and multimedia project exploring the complex connections and relationship between technology and humanity through visual art and music. Evolving technology has been changing our lives, including how we experience arts and music. The title, Ex Machina, or From the Machine, reflects on humanity’s creativity and struggle of identity in this fast-changing world. This project brings together scholars and artists from different fields to contemplate the meanings of the “machine” and its role in our society.

Collage of Clara Yang and her festival collaborators


March 20, 2024

A neon-colored graphic of abstract piano keys with soundwaves, music notes, and digital lines.Academic Panel and Q&A
5:00-7:00 pm, Hyde Hall

Dr. Mark Katz (chair of the academic panel, Department of Music)
Dr. Andrea Bohlman (Department of Music)
Dr. Anna Gatdula (Department of Music)
Dr. Hongbin Gu (Department of Psychiatry)
Dr. Thomas Hofweber (Department of Philosophy)
Destiny Meadows (Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Music)
Daniel Jones (former UNC Kenan Music Scholar, Staff Software Engineer at Google)


March 21, 2024

Graphic depicting the back of a woman wearing headphones in the midst of a full audience watching a digital performance of light, neon-blue soundwaves on a screen at the front of an auditorium.A Conversation with Clara Yang and her collaborators – the Making of Ex Machina
5:30-7:30 pm, Moeser Auditorium

Moderated by Stella Zhizhi Li, (Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Music)


March 22, 2024

Ex Machina performance | 23-24 William S. Newman Artists Series, Conversations in Modern Music
7:30 pm, Moeser Auditorium

Clara Yang, pianist/composer
Xuan, new media artist

Commissioned Composers and Artists:
Dr. Allen Anderson (UNC)
Prof. Suzi Analogue (UNC)
Dr. Peter Askim (NC State)
Dr. Stephen Anderson (UNC)
Yili Fan (movement artist, filmmaker)
Dr. Lee Weisert (UNC)
Phil Young
Yvette Young (electric guitarist, composer)

Act I, Atomic Pulse
Crystal Prelude No. 1 (solo piano), Cryoacoustic Orb Installation Video | Reena Esmail, composer; Lee Weisert and Jonathon Kirk, sound installation designers
Clinamina (piano and electronics) | Lee Weisert, composer
Deep ConditioNN Redux (piano and fixed media) | Suzi Analogue, beatmaker; Clara Yang, composer/piano

Act II, Organic Machines
Nebula (solo piano) | Clara Yang, composer/piano
RoboDream (solo piano) | Phil Young, composer; Yii Fan, movement artist
Conception (piano and fixed media) | Yvette Young, composer/producer/electric guitar/violin; Clara Yang, composer/piano

Act III, Synthetic Souls
Analogue Confession (solo piano) | Peter Askim, composer
Think that’s you – a personality software recognition software toccata (piano and electronics) | Allen Anderson, composer
Drones (solo piano) | Stephen Anderson, composer

Hoyt-Schermerhorn (piano and electronics) | Christopher Cerrone, composer

View the full digital program


Get a preview of the performance with the official video for Drones by Stephen Anderson!

The Festival on the Hill is a biennial music festival presented by the UNC Department of Music based around a given theme. Past festivals have included “Music, Science, and Nature,” “Music at Black Mountain,” “CHAT Festival,” “Revisions and Rethinkings,” “Videmus at 25,” “Music and the Congo,” and “A Century of Movement.” The 2024 Festival on the Hill is supported by the Arts and Humanities Grant Studio, an IAH Arts and Humanities Research Grant, and a DEI Research Grant. This year’s Festival is also presented in collaboration with the Conversations in Modern Music Series with support from The Jaroslav F. and Barbara S. Hulka Fund for Music in the Community. Special thanks to Dr. Mariah Marsden of the Arts and Humanities Grant Studio.