Robot conducts orchestra in South Korea’s Seoul

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A South Korean-made robot made its debut as an orchestra conductor before a sell-out crowd in Seoul on Friday, wowing the audience with a flawless performance in place of a human maestro.

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Named “EveR 6,” the five-foot-ten-inch-tall (1.8m) robot guided more than 60 musicians of the National Orchestra of Korea who were playing traditional Korean instruments.

The robot successfully guided the compositions, both independently and in collaboration with a human maestro who was standing next to it for about half an hour, entertaining the more than 950 audience members who had packed the National Theater of Korea.

The robot was showered with applause when it first appeared from below the stage on a lift and turned to face the audience, bowing in greeting.

Throughout the performance, the robot’s blue eyes stared unblinkingly at the musicians, only nodding its head in time to the music.

The rookie performed well on its stage debut, audience members said.

“I came here worried whether this robot could pull this off without a glitch,” Kim Ji-min, a 19-year-old college student majoring in music, told AFP.

“But I found it to be in great harmony with the musicians... It felt like a whole new world for me.”

While there have been musical performances led by robotic conductors in the past, including a 2017 concert led by the robot YuMi in Italy, this was the first time South Koreans were able to witness a robotic conductor on stage.

EveR 6, developed by the state-run Korea Institute of Industrial Technology, was programmed to replicate the movements of a human conductor through motion capture technology.

The machine is not capable of listening or improvising in real-time, however.

EveR 6 developers are currently working on enabling the robot to make gestures that are not pre-programmed, said Lee Dong-wook, the robot’s engineer.

Improvising and communicating with musicians in real-time is the next big step, said Song Joo-ho, a music columnist who came to see the performance.

“It needs to improvise in real-time when musicians make a mistake or things go wrong.”

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