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A Mobile Guide to the Music at a Philadelphia Orchestra Concert? There's an App for That!

The Philadelphia Orchestra's new LiveNote App in action!

While printed programs at classical music concerts are commonplace, The Philadelphia Orchestra continues to explore the use of mobile technology developed by Drexel University to inform the listening experience during the performance. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, the LiveNote App will be used in three upcoming concerts.

On Wednesday, February 25th, 2015, The Philadelphia Orchestra, led byConductor Robert Spano,hosts its second LiveNote Nightat Verizon Hall, with use of the LiveNote App.


Listen to Jeremy Rothman, the Orchestra's VP for Artistic Planning, talk with WRTI's Susan Lewis about how the LiveNote App works and why the Orchestra has chosen to use it now.

At an orchestra performance of Janacek’s Glagolitic Mass, audience members with the Live Note App on their phones could read about the fanfare as they were hearing it - about which instruments were playing and the composer’s motivation for the unusual start. When the singers began, listeners could follow the translation of the ancient text. It’s the opportunity to have a guide along with you.

Orchestra VP for Artistic Planning Jeremy Rothman says with purely instrumental music like Dvorak’s Golden Spinning Wheel, the App offers two threads of content timed with the music  – one with a focus on the story, and one with details about the music itself.

JR: We're trying to speak to different levels of people who want to engage in the background of the piece – learn about the composer, the history, the time the piece was written...and people who want to learn more about the musical structure of the piece, what the composer was trying to achieve.

SL: Rothman says it’s a way to keep pace with our technology-filled times – helping new and old audiences connect with traditional and contemporary repertoire.

JR: The symphonic concert experience has changed very little over the last 50 years. People are engaging in technology everywhere they go. So this is an opportunity and it’s a very ripe moment. Why not help them along in the process.

SL: The Orchestra continues to refine the use of the App, to minimize distractions and ensure that the darkened screen and educational content enriches the musical experience. Three upcoming LiveNote Nights will each feature a talk and musical demonstration, and a shorter concert, with use of the LiveNote App.

The first LiveNote Night is January 14th, when Music Director Yannick Nezet Seguin will lead the orchestra in Tchaikovsky’s 5th Symphony. More information.

Susan writes and produces stories about music and the arts. She’s host and producer of WRTI’s TIME IN online interview series, and contributes weekly intermission interviews for The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert series. She’s also been a regular host of WRTI’s Live from the Performance Studio sessions.