CLASSICAL MUSIC / Upbeat: Off the road

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The Independent Culture
THE ultimate in re-cycling? For Emmy Award-winning composer Bill Milbrodt, the green method to dispose of his 1982 Honda Accord was staring him in the headlights. Last month he duly had the beast dismantled at a service station in Somerset, New Jersey. Now he is fashioning musical instruments from among the 10,000 separate parts.

The goal is to provide the instruments for use in performances in concert and on CD of Milbrodt's latest composition, The Car, for voice and large ensemble. The piece will '. . . illustrate how man's mobility influences culture, language and ideas around the world'. Milbrodt has so far created a mandolin from an air filter and a xylophone out of windscreen glass. Creations still to come include a harp made out of a door, a giant drum for which plastic is stretched across the car boot, and a range of wind instruments constructed from bits and bobs of piping. A television documentary is covering the whole process.

The composer has lined up some serious names in the music business to record The Car, among them the saxophonist Dennis DiBlasio and Ward Swingle, founder of the Swingle Singers. Milbrodt retains a sense of perspective about the whole idea. 'I could give the car to the junk man or make a piece of music out of it. The music sounded like more fun.'