Composer Conducts Subway Musicians via WiFi

The performers stationed at 9 different subway stops are connected simultaneously to a live conductor through the MTA’s recently installed WiFi.

New York Subway Musicians WiFi
New York City is a true fount of creativity, above ground and below. One of the best places where many talented artists find ways to thrive and entertain the riders is the NY Subway. A recent MTA program which allows full cell phone and Wi-Fi connectivity at underground level, led to a very imaginative project.

“Signal Strength” created by filmmakers Chris Shimojima and Anita Anthonj, showcases some of the most eclectic subway musicians playing music together, all located at different stations. The project involved a production team of more than 40 people and countless hours of editing.

“You know we take the subway every day and we see a lot of interesting performers,” Shimojima told PIX11 News, explaining how the concept materialized. “You know, it was just a unique way of mixing technology, music, film and New York City.”

Shimojima asked the violist and composer known as Ljova to write a piece for 11 subway musicians performing on trumpet, viola, cello, bass, percussion, guitar, accordion, as well as more uncommon instruments like musical saw and theremin. The idea: compose something that all eleven could play, using the WiFi network to link them all to a central conductor – also Ljova – whose movements would be viewable on their laptops.

“What’s great about our project is that it really unites a diverse group of musicians and brings them together to show what kind of great art can be made on the subway,” said Shimojima.