Curtis Institute’s “Immersive Scheherazade” offers alternative performance model

Posted on: May 6, 2022

The Curtis Institute’s Immersive Scheherazade presentation on April 30, 2022. Photo: Tyger Williams

“As the recorded sounds of the Curtis Institute orchestra last weekend poured through speakers and video of instrumentalists glowed on 18-foot-tall screens, you had the sense of an old institution reaching for, if not the future, at least one possible future,” writes Peter Dobrin in Thursday’s (5/5) Philadelphia Inquirer. “The Curtis experiment, in the small black box theater known as Studio IIJ, allowed a limited number of Curtis insiders and members of the public to hear and see the very large school orchestra led by Osmo Vänskä…. Dubbed Immersive Scheherazade, the experience emulates those immersive Van Gogh shows. Four large screens and several smaller ones showed video close-ups of instrumentalists and conductor in a performance recorded at Curtis in December. It was a multisensory delight…. You could sit or stroll as the 45-minute piece played back on 10 high-quality speakers….. The project [was] led by Curtis senior vice president of digital strategy and innovation Vince Ford…. Many of the opera and orchestra concert films that have flourished during the pandemic have been beautiful… But watching at home doesn’t do much for your social life…. For Curtis’ Scheherazade, you were in the company of others.”