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.




Uma joia entre gigantes – A Sinfonia Nr 4 de Ludwig van Beethoven

O dia hoje começou cedo e já seguia, lamentavelmente, quase sem música quando recebo uma pequena joia gravada na minha querida Philharmonie em Berlim, em 27.ago.2010, sob a batuta do maestro Sir Simon Rattle. Na gravação, um belo trecho do primeiro movimento Allegro vivace, da injustiçada Sinfonia Nr 4 de Beethoven – afinal, não é mesmo das situações mais fáceis na vida de uma sinfonia ter nascido entre as gigantes Eroica (Nr 3) e Destino (Nr 5)!

Composta em Si Maior, em 1806, é completamente desprovida de motivos trágicos: leve, entusiasmada, uma verdadeira joia para o ouvinte apesar da dificuldade técnica (e física) que impõe aos músicos e em especial ao maestro. Não por acaso, tornou-se a escolha do grande Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy para sua estreia frente à Gewandhaus de Leipzig em 1835.

Aproveitem o trecho com a Filarmônica de Berlim, e tendo oportunidade e acesso à obra, fica o convite para ouvi-la em versão integral. Até a próxima!

Happy birthday, Daniel!

Flowers to Daniel.
Photo: Sheila Maceira
The date was November 15th and the Charity Concert was planned to support the Berliner Music Kindergarten. Under the attentive conduction of Mr. Zubin Mehta – a longtime friend of – the piano soloist Daniel Barenboim, and the Staatskapelle Berlin completing the high level cast for the special event.

One German première for the piece “Dialogues II”, written by the american composer Mr. Elliot Carter – a clear tribute for a great man and artist that recently passed out in New York. But even more: the Piano Concerto #3 in C-minor, Opus 37, by the german Ludwig van Beethoven, and the Piano Concerto #1 in B-minor, Opus 23, by Peter Illyich Tschaikowsky. What a night!

Not a single seat left in the main concert room of the the Berliner Philharmonie. A great, silent and attentive audience ready to take off with the orchestra. Suddenly, someone initiates singing a song that is rapidly accompanied by the crowd: “Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you…”. That was more than a special charity concert night, that very night in fact celebrated Daniel Barenboim’s 70th birthday!

This concert was part of a couple of concerts intended to celebrate Mr. Barenboim’s birthday with his musical colleagues from a lifetime. And I have had such a premium privilege to be in Berlin, to have got tickets, and to have taken part of this remarkable night. The birthday was his but gifts were made available by himself and his music friends, not only by delivering the great concert programme but still in each and every of the 3 petit cadeaus (bis) that followed. In the best possible sense of the expression, a night to remember!