Orchestras navigate shifting connections between technology and music

Posted on: March 20, 2013

“Ten years ago, technology seemed to promise a new frontier for classical music,” writes Anne Midgette in Friday’s (3/15) Washington Post. “Orchestras were spending millions creating Web sites where people could hear concerts and learn all about music from the comfort of home. The high-tech composer/computer scientist Tod Machover was designing ‘hyperinstruments’ that anyone could learn to play just by moving their hands. Today, technology has come a lot farther. But as so often happens with technological predictions, our brave new world has extended the familiar old one. … Machover’s latest project was an attempt to co-write a piece of music with an entire city. … But spreading the word through social-media channels, Machover found he was reaching ‘a closed circle—people already involved with the Toronto Symphony.’ … The [New York] Philharmonic’s technological path, according to [Director of Digital Media Vince] Ford, mirrors that of any big business in the 21st century. It started by focusing on online commerce. Now, the focus has shifted back to content—which the orchestra tries to repackage in as many forms as possible. … ‘Informed audiences can be more easily transformed,’ says Howard Herring, president of the New World Symphony, the training orchestra for young professionals in Miami Beach. … ‘Of course,’ he says, ‘the next challenge is, once you’ve brought them in for the first time, can you bring them back?’ ”

Posted March 20, 2013