What do you think of this idea?
An orchestra from across the state has launched a mobile app to provide real-time details, images, translations and more to concertgoers while they're listening to a live performance. The app is designed to provide details while mitigating distractions to other audience members.
I think it's a cool idea — a modern update to the traditional program notes — and I'll be eager to hear what app users (and others around them) think of it. I love reading program notes, but I think they are probably most helpful for people who already have a working knowledge of the music, or at least, of music in general. With the music being described right in front of them as they're listening to it, app users will know exactly when that idee fixe is repeated, or that second theme comes in, or whatever.
The idea of looking at a tiny screen in the middle of a large symphony, in the midst of a large concert venue, probably is cringe-inducing to some. It's an understandable concern. But I think, too, an intimidation about what to listen for can be overwhelming to latent audience members and even prevent them from coming to the concert hall. Keeping them engaged and educated with a mobile app might actually make an emotional connection where one might not exist otherwise.
More from the Philadelphia Orchestra below:
The Philadelphia Orchestra Launches LiveNote™, An Interactive Concert Guide for Mobile Devices
Application Enables Audiences to Access Information about the Music in Real Time
(Philadelphia, October 2, 2014)—The Philadelphia Orchestra this season launches LiveNote™, an application for mobile devices that allows audiences to access information about the works they are hearing, following the music with real-time musical, emotional, and historical highlights. LiveNote™ is one of many Orchestra initiatives to meet audiences at the different points where they experience music. The application will be available for use only on specially selected concerts over the course of the season, beginning with the Free College Concert, October 14 and subscription concerts October 16-18. The use of LiveNote will be optional for concertgoers.
"The Philadelphia Orchestra has a rich legacy of being at the forefront of technical innovation, and curating new ideas is part of the very fabric of our organization," said Philadelphia Orchestra President and CEO Allison Vulgamore. "LiveNote is the latest initiative to experiment with harnessing the power of technology in service to the power of music, and we look forward to working with our audiences as we test and evolve this long-nurtured application."
Said Philadelphia Orchestra Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin "Today, we all are finding ways to merge technology with the things that we love in our lives, including listening to music. I welcome the opportunity to facilitate this in the concert hall in a thoughtful manner, providing listeners with the choice to use the LiveNote application, or not. It is yet another option for our audiences to appreciate and enjoy the music differently."
Developed in collaboration with Drexel University engineers, LiveNote works with Android and iOS phones. Its exclusive digital media content takes audience members beyond the music onstage by providing concert program notes, a musical glossary, and information about the Orchestra. LiveNote can also provide text and translations for vocal works. Slides automatically advance with the music on a mobile device's screen during a concert, providing key highlights, engaging details, and images relating to the composition.
A critical feature of LiveNote is that it has been developed to have minimal impact on concertgoers in the hall and thoroughly tested in rehearsals and postlude performances. The application is designed with white text on a black background specifically to minimize light and disruption. The content is custom designed for each piece to optimize the experience of hearing the work without distraction.
"To develop LiveNote we had to think deeply about how to enhance the audience experience without detracting from one's enjoyment of the music," said Youngmoo Kim, PhD, director of the Expressive and Creative Interaction Technologies (ExCITe) Center and an associate professor in Drexel's College of Engineering. "To accomplish this, we needed not only great technical expertise, but also a depth of knowledge and experience with music performance."
LiveNote makes its debut at the Orchestra's Free College Concert on October 14 during performances of Rimsky-Korsakov's Capriccio espagnol, Bernstein's Symphonic Dances from West Side Story, an excerpt from Daugherty's Reflections on the Mississippi for tuba and orchestra, Higdon's blue cathedral, and Strauss's Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks. LiveNote will also be available during concerts October 16-18, on two of the three pieces the Orchestra will perform: Dvořák's The Golden Spinning Wheel and Janáček's Glagolitic Mass.
Kim, who founded Drexel's ExCITe Center, has drawn on his background in both engineering and music to advance the LiveNote™ project. His team of Drexel undergraduate and graduate students worked closely with the Orchestra's information technology staff and cross-organizational team to develop an app that would present information in a manner that complements the performance. "We had an amazing multi-disciplinary team working together to create LiveNote, and we've been privileged to have the opportunity to collaborate with The Philadelphia Orchestra on such an innovative project."
The LiveNote content for October's concerts was developed by Benjamin K. Roe, the executive director of the Staunton, Va.-based Heifetz International Music Institute, which is dedicated to helping talented young musicians become well-rounded artists by improving their physical and verbal communication skills as well as their technical agility and musicianship, self-confidence, and leadership capacity both on- and offstage. Before joining the Heifetz Institute Roe was the managing producer for music and performance at WGBH in Boston. He also served as the general manager of WDAV 89.9 in Davidson, N.C., after a 20-year stint at NPR, where he served in a variety of positions.
LiveNote will be a companion to Playbill which will continue to be distributed at performances when LiveNote is available.
LiveNote is the latest in The Philadelphia Orchestra's imaginative and original approach to technology throughout its history. During the Orchestra's 2014 Tour of Asia & China Residency the ensemble's May 25 concert at the Shanghai Grand Theatre was the first symphonic webcast from China to an international audience by a Chinese company, and was viewed by nearly 250,000 people. The webcast was broadcast in partnership with Xinhui Media Group. In addition to being the first Orchestra to be recorded electrically, in 1925, it was the first to perform its own commercially sponsored radio broadcast (in 1929, on NBC), the first to perform on the soundtrack of a feature film (Paramount's The Big Broadcast of 1937), the first to appear on a national television broadcast (in 1948, on CBS), and the first major orchestra to give a live cybercast of a concert on the internet (in 1997). The Orchestra also became the first major orchestra to multi-cast a concert to large-screen venues through the Internet2 network.
LiveNote is available now and can be downloaded from the Apple Store at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/livenote/id825459337?mt=8 and from Google Play at https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.phillyorchesta.LiveNote. For more information about LiveNote visit https://www.philorch.org/livenote#/ .
LiveNote™ was funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation with additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts.