When Orchestras Meet Technology

by | Jun 5, 2017

We all, in some way or another, reap the benefits of the captivating, exciting and influential world of 21st century technology. The vast amount of social media platforms and their ever-increasing number of users are just one example.

Classical musicians and orchestras have also become players in this online world, fishing for social-media exposure as much as the next person – the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Berliner Philharmoniker are two fine examples, with their Facebook pages garnering an impressive 161,294 and 1,174,805 likes respectively. These traditional institutions can see where the future is heading and they certainly do not wish to be left behind.

Below, we’ve listed the cutting-edge technological advancements that a few innovative orchestras have started embracing, with huge benefits to themselves and their audiences.

Example 1: The Orchestra Virtual Reality

In the 2015/16 season, the Los Angeles Philharmonic launched an ambitious and widely-acclaimed virtual reality experience called the Orchestra VR. A first of its kind, this five-week tour allowed viewers to experience the iconic Walt Disney Concert Hall in a 360-degree 3D performance. Many of the participants were astonished by the smooth viewing experience. Many described the experience as “surreal”. The performance features the opening of Beethoven’s classic Fifth Symphony, conducted by the famous Gustavo Dudamel and performed by the LA Philharmonic. We highly recommend watching the video and indulging your imagination within the entire sensual experience.

Example 2:  The Orchestra App

Back in 2012, the UK Philarmonia Orchestra released an innovative iPad application offering a unique insight into the world of the orchestral musician – The Orchestra app.
The Orchestra offers an in-depth, dynamic view into extracts from eight masterpiece performances, led by Principal Conductor Essa-Pekka Salonen. The application comes with a host of amazing features, including multi-camera videos of each piece, allowing users to switch between different angles and sections of the orchestra, and “BeatMap”, a visualization feature that shows different sections of the orchestra pulse in time with the music. Other features include synchronized scores and dynamic note-by-note visualization of each piece as it is played.
Through a selection of expert videos, users are also given the opportunity to get better acquainted with the Philharmonia musicians and Esa-Pekka Salonen. Watch musicians demonstrate how their instruments work, and Esa-Pekka Salonen provides in-depth commentary on each piece.

“The Orchestra is an excellent way to learn more about that most mysterious of musical organizations, in a way that a book or a linear video documentary wouldn’t quite be able to realize” – PC Mag 

Example 3: The Music Live Streaming

Through their application, the Berliner Philarmoniker are also offering a very special and creative experience. Users can now live stream a selection of more than 40 concerts, all filmed in HD and with amazing sound quality, on their TV, computer, or any handheld device such as an iPad or an iPhone. The application also offers behind-the-scenes access, for an exciting glimpse into how orchestras actually work.

“What a great way to experience the Berlin Philharmonic historically and to the present. The range of music they have on their site is amazing and the sound incredible! Worth every penny and more “- ABass1

CONCLUSION

As we can see from our 3 examples above there are some orchestras that are beginning to embrace technology, and with that are benefitting hugely.

We understand that such a move may at first seem daunting, but perhaps it is important for an institution to think long term and to embrace the opportunities of new technology. After all, times are quickly changing and history shows that you either adapt to new changes and challenges or fall behind.

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