Electronic music synthesizer inventor and Cornell University Ph.D. Robert Moog will be honored at a special exhibit and concert titled "The Keyboard Meets Modern Technology" at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., April 14-15. As part of a two-day event, David Borden, director of Cornell's Digital Music Program, will perform with Mother Mallard's Masterpiece Co. and Keith Emerson, formerly of the rock music trio, Emerson, Lake and Palmer. The concert will be held Saturday, April 15, in the Smithsonian's Carmichael Auditorium.
The two-day event, sponsored by the Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation at the Smithsonian, is part of "Piano 300," a much larger exhibit celebrating 300 years of the piano. Trevor Pinch, a professor in the Department of Science and Technology studies, is writing a book about the Moog synthesizer and has helped organize the special exhibit, which includes a panel discussion and videoconference with Emerson, Moog and Borden - among other pioneers of the synthesizer. The videoconference will be linked to a Cornell classroom and provide students with an opportunity to talk with and ask questions of these legendary figures in the history of the synthesizer.
Moog, Ph.D '64, manufactured the first commercial synthesizers as the R.A. Moog Co. in a Trumansburg storefront from 1964 to 1971. Used by the Beatles and countless other recording stars, it gave birth to the huge synthesizer industry of today. In 1971, the company name was changed to Moog Music Inc., which became a division of Norlin Music Inc. in 1973. In 1978, Moog moved to North Carolina, where he founded Big Briar Inc., which designs and builds novel electronic music equipment. He now is the world's leading maker of theremins, instruments played by moving hands through an electromagnetic field.
Borden worked alongside Moog in his Trumanburg studios and later founded Mother Mallard, the first-ever live synthesizer ensemble. In 1969 at Barnes Hall, the ensemble premiered under the name Mother Mallard's Portable Masterpiece Co., brandishing some of the latest musical technology engineered by Moog. Last year, Mother Mallard performed a 30th anniversary concert at Cornell's Center for Theatre Arts.
For more information about the Smithsonian event, contact Trevor Pinch, TJP2@cornell.edu, (607) 255-6048; or David Borden, DRB4@cornell.edu, (607) 255-9922; or visit the Mother Mallard web site at For tickets and further information about the concert call (202) 357-3030.