"The National Symphony Orchestra is trying an experiment. It's tweeting Beethoven's "Pastoral" Symphony, Thursday night [July 30] at Wolf Trap."
More at the following link- Top News Washington Post
The orchestra will use the micro-blogging site Twitter to send text messages of 140 characters or fewer from conductor Emil de Cou during the performance. (Example: "In my score Beethoven has printed Nightingale = flute Quail = oboe Cuckoo = clarinet -- a mini concerto for woodwind/birds.")
Young users of multi-tasking devices such as Blackberry phones and other smart phones such as iPhone and PalmPre, will be able to follow the timed program notes as the music happens, an improvement over the traditional printed program notes which the reader may not be able to apply easily to the musical event live.
Of course, the devices (and users faces) will glow, a possible distraction to others, so organizers have designated a separate lawn area for those users.
The question of integrating technological innovations into the normally conseravative concert experience is addressed in the article, from using videos to laser light shows to maintain younger audiences interest.
An earlier device to deliver live program notes, called the Concert Companion is mentioned, since it was the precursor to this Twitter experiment. Invented by Roland Valliere, Columbus Symphony's new President and CEO, it failed to gain universal success after its hopeful beginnings in 2003.
Many of the people who used the [Concert Companion] devices were enthusiastic. One longtime subscriber said he had heard "Petroushka" numerous times, but had never actually understood so much about what was going on. But others found it tiring because following a piece with the Concert Companion called for a greater level of concentration on the music than they were used to: It made them listen more, not less. Those who were up in arms against the thing generally didn't try it out at all because they were so certain that it represented egregious dumbing down. (One problem the project ran into is that the hand-held devices kept getting stolen; so much for the refinement of classical music audiences.)
Whether the National Symphony's Twitter experiment is the next wave of concert guides for classical music venues or just another passing fancy, remains to be seen.
Personally I support the idea. But I have to admit I am biased. I just got a Palm Pre (which can receive Tweets live), and I love it! I hope the Columbus Symphony, with its new leader Roland Valliere, engages younger audiences with innovative ideas such as this.
Though I cannot attend the concert live I'll be there in spirit. Apparently you can receive the National Symphony concert Tweets by following NSOatWolfTrap on Twitter.
Tweet you at the Symphony!