Middlesex University students have teamed up with The Who’s Roger Daltrey for his performance of rock opera Tommy at the Royal Albert Hall this week.
Huge LED screens set up at the venue will stream cutting edge work from the University’s art, design and computing students on March 24 as the Who front-man performs Tommy in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust.
The link with the rock legend came through Middlesex’s Creative Director in Residence Colin Payne.
Colin said: “Last year we worked closely with Rob Lee (editor- thewho.com) developing a new Middlesex University course which is really unique – combining technology and the arts – and out of this work he had an inspired idea to propose a collaboration with the band.
“Daltrey agreed and suggested that our students create new visuals for a gig at the Royal Albert Hall where he planned to revive The Who’s “Tommy”. It suddenly became an epic and amazingly real challenge.”
Colin brought together students from across the University, helping them to collaborate using social media, downloading and discussing their ideas on a dedicated Facebook page.
The Who’s lead singer said he was impressed by how the students applied the themes of Tommy to their world.
“The genius of Pete Townshend (The Who’s guitarist who wrote Tommy) is that his work, like that of all great artists, is timeless,” said Roger.
“The students have been able to get rid of the stereotype images of Tommy that we all know and love and come up with their own fresh interpretation. What’s really exciting is to see these guys use the medium of Tommy to talk about their generation”.
Colin Payne said the students jumped at the chance to work with a music legend: “They all got fired up about doing something for Teenage Cancer Trust and working with a legendary performer like Roger Daltrey on such an iconic piece as ‘Tommy’.”
Third year Information Technology and Networking student Ahmed Karrar said: “This project was a real pleasure. To have a rock icon like Roger Daltrey agree to let us interpret the Tommy album the way we wanted was awesome.
“Collaboration through Facebook was really effective. I am not a heavy Facebook user but the dedicated Tommy page setup let everyone share and access their own and others’ ideas very easily. The notification system allowed us all to keep abreast of the latest updates and ideas.”
Ahmed, from St john’s Wood, created more than six minutes of animation for the opening tracks of the rock opera, Overture and It’s a Boy.
He said: “It was based on ideas that came to me after listening to the Tommy album, Tommy’s condition of being a ‘deaf, dumb and blind kid’ I felt relates to all of us today: no matter where you are in the world it seems that no one is listening to each other, seeing what is happening or saying what needs to be said.”
The performance of Tommy on March 24th is sold out but there are plans to show the visualisations after the event on the Who’s official website www.thewho.com
Image: A still from student Michael Argyrou's work. Copyright TMM/MU Ventures