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Robot Leads Orchestra in Performance


Humanoid robot YuMi conducts the Lucca Philharmonic Orchestra performing a concert alongside Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli at the Verdi Theatre in Pisa, Italy September 12, 2017.

Earlier this month, the Italian city of Pisa held the First International Festival of Robotics.

During the festival, a robot did something incredible at Pisa's Verdi Theater. It lifted a baton and conducted the Lucca Philharmonic orchestra. The orchestra featured the famous Italian singer Andrea Bocelli.

The robot is named YuMi – from the phrase "You and me." It learned all of the movements necessary from Andrea Colombini, the orchestra's usual conductor. Colombini held the robot's arms while the orchestra practiced so that the computer could memorize the correct movements.

"We basically had to find time to understand his movements. When we found the way, everything was pretty easy," said Colombini.

Colombini added that the robot's technicians were very good. They made "everything perfect, especially in the length and the speed of the gesture [movement of the body], which is very important," he said.

YuMi is not able to act in unexpected ways. He would have been unable to answer a sudden change in tempo by the musicians.

YuMi successfully conducted three of the 18 musical works performed that night, including one famous song from Verdi's opera Rigoletto.

I'm John Russell.

Eleanor Biles reported on this story for Reuters. John Russell adapted it for VOA Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor.

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Words in This Story

incredible –adj. difficult or impossible to believe

baton – n. a thin stick that is used by a music conductor to lead a band or orchestra

conduct – v. to direct the performance of (musicians or singers)

memorize – v. to learn (something) so well that you are able to remember it perfectly

technician – n. a person whose job relates to the practical use of machines or science in industry, medicine, etc.

tempo -- n. the speed at which a musical piece is played or sung​

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