The orchestra has worked with the BBC’s Research and Development teams in Salford to create a new web app called Notes, which will help everybody, not just those in the know, enjoy their music.
Notes sends information to smart phones during the orchestra’s performance and gives insights into what is being played at that moment on stage.
For example, users might get a Note saying: “In this beautiful clarinet concerto the composer wants us to imagine birdsong in a forest” or “You might recognise this tune as it’s been used in countless film scores and patriotic songs since Beethoven created it”.
From September, Notes will be available at all concerts in the BBC Philharmonic’s main Bridgewater Hall season.
On concert night, users connect over Wi-Fi or 3G and open the web app via a browser on their smart phones. Members of the BBC Philharmonic team then trigger specially written nuggets of information about the music throughout the concert, co-ordinated with what is being played on stage.
Notes users are seated in a particular area of the Hall where their use of mobile phones will not disturb other concert goers, who prefer a more traditional experience.
BBC Philharmonic Director Simon Webb believes Notes will open up the enjoyment of the music to everyone. “We can’t wait for audiences to start getting even more out of our music than they did before. We know other orchestras have trialled similar services, but we are the first to introduce this into every single main season concert, putting it front and centre stage. It’s a vital step in our mission to cater to all music lovers, so we are keeping new audiences in mind as well as the experienced concert goer.”
He adds there are plans to share the technology in future: “Once we have thoroughly road tested it we are hoping we can share it with partners and other music organisations in the city.”
Feedback from audiences who have tested Notes has been positive. They like the tweet-length notes. Comments have included: “I really enjoyed Notes. I found it enhanced my concert experience and discovered things I wouldn’t know otherwise.” And, “Really engaging, interesting and very well done.”
BBC Philharmonic Notes tickets will be available from next season at the Bridgewater Hall, which starts on 21 September.