When Virtual Reality meets the orchestra

Welcome to the digital society of the 21st century. A society where any time, any where, at your fingertips, is increasingly and faster than ever, becoming the standard across industries, products, geographies and people.

It is no longer about millennials only – it is about our contemporary society and our everyday life across the globe. It is about mobility and convenience, as well as the consolidation of the smartphone era.

This new normal challenges the status quo as a whole – and the orchestras are no exception. Standing still is no option at all, and the way to the very survival involves a fair deal of innovation, strategy, technology and customer-centric attitude. It involves reimagining the possibilities and embracing new ways to conveying a message, to engaging with the audiences, to providing relevant and fulfilling experiences with music.

Starting mid 2000’s, a fair number of orchestras around the word have already debuted with live concerts, and have been increasingly broadcasting a selection of concerts via internet. Podcasts, media-rich websites, a great variety of mobile apps – all part of this effort to offer differentiated customer experiences. London Symphony Orchestra (2005), Berliner Philharmoniker (2009), Sao Paulo Orchestra (2011) are among the orchestras already broadcasting some of their gigs online.

Virtual Reality is apparently the next natural step for them. 2016 have seen a number of experiments with VR by orchestras around the globe. The Berliner Philharmoniker started with Mahler’s Third Symphony, conducted by Iván Fischer, recorded back in Jan 2016.

The Philharmonia Orchestra showcased their digital offer with a brilliant takeover of the Royal Festival Hall back in Sep 2016. It was the first major VR production from a UK symphony orchestra – a great achievement indeed!

The Brazilian OSESP (Sao Paulo Orchestra) offered its first VR concert last month (Feb 2017), broadcasting from its home room in São Paulo, Brazil. They had the conductor Isaac Karabtchevsky leading the Symphony Nr2, by the Brazilian composer Villa-Lobos.

The VR offer is, no doubt, still to be shaped to meet a great deal of expectations around customer experience – its current format is still not enough to surpass the experience of a live concert. But it is already very exciting to learn about the feedbacks and new engaging possibilities being explored. And very reassuring from an accessibility perspective too! More to come.

 

 

 

The Long Journey Of Women To The Podium

Listening to one of my favourite radio programmes the other day – BBC Radio 3’s Music Matters – I was delighted to learn more about a fascinating history of Mrs. Sylvia Caduff, the world’s first maestra. So many achievements, so many milestones… it is a shame her name is not spoken and revered everywhere when we comes to great conductors!

Who would say she had to hide behind a window of a room where Mr. Herbert von Karajan was giving a masterclass to young conductors at Lucern Festival one day, only to approach him by the end of it and… secure a test! Her very first time conducting, no formal specific study at all prior to that occasion – apart from conducting via… the radio at home.

Later on, Mrs. Caduff had some specific study, and was Leonard Bernstein’s assistant at the New York Philharmonic. She became one of the first women to conduct the New York Philharmonic, the Berlin Philharmonic and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. And that was back in the 1960s, when it was unlikely for a woman to conduct a top orchestra.

Last week I’ve been to Barbican Centre in London for a concert with the London Symphony Orchestra, which was originally set to count on the Russian conductor Valery Gergiev and the Dutch violin soloist Janine Jansen.

Unexpectedly, both called in sick and were then respectively replaced by the Finish conductor and cellist Susanna Mälkki and the German Christian Tetzlaff.

I can’t deny I was particularly enchanted by the brilliant performance of Mrs. Mälkii – it was no doubt one of the best interpretations of (Strauss’) Also sprach Zarathustra I have heard live. And that was at such short notice. Very well done!

I believe the journey of professional women was never easy regardless of the area and position, but I believe it might have always been particularly harder for maestras. It all started with Mrs. Caduff back in the day, and as the American Marin Alsop says ‘without her (Mrs. Caduff) what I do today would not be possible’. Bravo!

Music to the… eyes?!

The intention was to share a bit of my experience shooting the NYE fireworks in London. But then, I could not help but think of the incredible ballet of images as if they we part of a great Sonata… So, how about you imagine the sound of the fireworks, mixed with sounds of happiness all around, and bells from a distant church? Now, here you have a couple of pictures to help setting the scene… 🙂

1. Prelude – Allegro appassionato

NYE 2014 @ London Eye
NYE 2014 @ London Eye – 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Andante un poco adagio – Allegretto grazioso

NYE @ London Eye - 2
NYE @ London Eye – 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Finale – Allegro vivace!

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Happy 2015! 🙂