ACTOR Symposium on orchestration and musical analysis with Fabien Lévy

Following presentations, wine and snacks will be provided to accompany a round table discussion.

ACTOR Symposium with Fabien Levy 


Composer Fabien Lévy will join McGill researchers in music theory, composition, and music perception in a symposium co-sponsored by ACTOR (Analysis, Creation, and Teaching of Orchestration) and CIRMMT Research Axes 3 and 4. Levy, author of Le compositeur, son oreille et ses machines à écrire: Déconstruire les grammatologies du musical pour mieux les composer, will present a morning lecture on “functional orchestration” followed in the afternoon by shorter presentations on aspects of analytical and orchestrational theory applied to the first movement of Franz Schubert’s Eighth Symphony and a hands-on analytical workshop. This workshop is co-sponsored by ACTOR, CIRMMT Research Axes 3 and 4, and the Schulich School of Music’s Composition and Music Technology Areas.


  • 10:30-12:30 - Fabien Lévy: Functional orchestration
  • 12:30-14:00 - Lunch
  • 14:00-14:30 - William Caplin: Musical form in Schubert's Eighth Symphony, first movement
  • 14:30-15:00 - Stephen McAdams: Orchestral Grouping Effects (Perception)
  • 15:00-15:45 - Denys Bouliane: Orchestrational techniques
  • 15:45-16:00 - Coffee break
  • 16:00-18:00 - Workshop on orchestration analysis
    • 16:00-16:50 - Three WorkGroups with Lévy, Bouliane and McAdams will use and discuss the methods provided by Orchestral Functions, Techniques and Perception Effects, respectively in analyzing the Exposition of Schubert's Eight Symphony, first movement
    • 17:05-18:00 - The three WorkGroups will join in a plenary session to compare and discuss their approaches
  • 18:00-19:00 - Reception

Call for Participation

For the workshop portion of the Symposium happening from 4:00-5:00pm, we are specifically looking for about 30 participants who have ideally attended the presentations and wish to engage in a critical analysis of one of the three approaches being developed with the ACTOR Project and to test-drive the computer-based tools being implemented. Ideally, we would like participation by composers, orchestrators, performers, music theorists, musicologists, cognitive science and music tech students.


  • 16:00-16:50 - three WorkGroups will be formed around Lévy, Bouliane and McAdams and will use and discuss the methods provided by the three perspectives (Orchestral FUNCTIONS, TECHNIQUES and PERCEPTUAL EFFECTS, respectively) in analyzing the Exposition of Schubert’s Eight Symphony, first movement.
  • 16:50-17:30 - the three WorkGroups will join in a plenary session to compare and discuss their approaches.


If you are interested in participating actively in the WorkGroups, please email Prof. Denys Bouliane (denys.bouliane[at] by 17 February 2020 and rank order your preference for the WorkGroups. We'll do our best to get you your first or second choice, but need to spread people across the groups, if possible. But we can assure you that each group will be very dynamic!

Participants will be offered:

1. A COMPLIMENTARY special package of the OrchPlay software ( including the multichannel version as well as 2 stereo recordings of the complete exposition of Schubert’s Eighth Symphony first movement.

2. A COMPLIMENTARY Beta version of OrchView (Orchestral Grouping EFFECTS with Schubert’s score ready for annotation) followed by an updated version including the Orchestral TECHNIQUES to be released late 2020.

About Fabien Lévy

Fabien Lévy studied composition with Gérard Grisey at the Paris Conservatoire. He was resident at the Villa Medici in Rome and in Berlin with the DAAD Artist Program. His works, published by Billaudot and Ricordi Germany, have been performed by the Ensemble Recherche, the Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart, the Ensemble Modern of Frankfurt, the Argento Ensemble, the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Berlin Radio Symphony orchestra (among others). He won the 2004 Förderpreis from the Ernst von Siemens Förderpreis Foundation for music. He taught at the Hochschule für Musik Hanns-Eisler in Berlin (Germany), was Assistant Professor of Composition at Columbia University in New York (2006–12) and is currently professor of composition at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater "Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy" Leipzig in Germany. He lives in Berlin.


The ACTOR Project is an international partnership working to bring interdisciplinary research on orchestration and timbre to the forefront of music scholarship. This partnership links North American and European orchestration practice and pedagogy, and stimulates the development of new creativity-enhancing digital tools for learning, creating, and studying orchestration practice.