Boston Symphony Orchestra hopes iPads will bring kids back to classical

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Would you sit through one of these if you could play with your iPad?
Would you sit through one of these if you could play with your iPad?
Photo: Wikimedia (CC)

To try to get Millennials to sit through some classical music, the Boston Symphony Orchestra is now handing out iPads to select audience members as they walk into Symphony Hall.

The San Diego Union Tribune reports that instead of asking patrons to silence their iPhones and keep their devices in their pockets throughout a performance, the BSO is actually encouraging its patrons to have a second-screen experience, courtesy of custom-loaded iPads:

As part of an effort to draw in a younger audience, the Boston Symphony Orchestra is loaning select patrons iPads loaded with content specific to each performance.

They’ll be able to view sheet music for the pieces being played, video interviews with musicians, podcasts about the composers and analysis on the works themselves. They’ll also get a close-up view of the conductor from the musicians’ point of view from video monitors set up in the hall.

That sounds remarkably forward thinking for an orchestra which was first founded in 1881. And according to the group’s chief operating and communications officer, it’s the first symphony orchestra to offer customized iPads to its audience.

Personally, I like going to the symphony even without iPads, but I can definitely see the draw. I think it’s actually a pretty fantastic way to try to get people engaged and educated about classical music.

But what do you think? Would this get you to go to a symphony? Let us know in the comments.

Source: The San Diego Union-Tribune

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  • nwcs

    I wouldn’t want to go to a symphony with a bunch of iPads. People don’t like classical because they’ve never been exposed to it, never gave it a chance, or have a prejudice against it. For all the “inclusiveness” of the young people they certainly are stubborn/closed minded of things like classical music.

    • aardman

      No, young people don’t listen to classical music today in the same numbers that young people listened to it 200 years ago, because 200 years ago, the best classical musicians, aside from being amazingly talented, were like rock stars and showmen who played to the audience. If Beethoven, Mozart, Lizst, Chopin etc. were alive today and performed in a concert, they would be excoriated for being too flamboyant, overly emotional, or ‘for taking too many liberties with the score’. Just look at all the flak Lang Lang gets for swaying too much with the music.

      Somehow, classical music evolved from being entertainment into something more like museum pieces in an exhibit.

      • nwcs

        I can’t disagree. Someone once said if Mozart was alive today he would be a master of Broadway. They worked within their constraints but created something amazing.

  • Yeah, I really want to see bright screens distract me from the performance, because everyone loves that in movie theaters too.

    And what, you’re supposed to listen to those podcasts while the performance is going on? So you’re actively giving them something else to listen to that isn’t the music you’re performing. Makes sense.

  • aardman

    During his time, Beethoven would hold improvisation challenges with the other leading pianists of his time. These would be held in concert halls where the pianists take turns improvising on a theme thrown at them by the ‘opponent’. When’s the last time that ‘classical’ and ‘improvisation’ showed up in the same marquee?

    If classical music dropped the stiff, staid, stultifying, and stuffy performances that are held today and went back to the more spontaneous, more raucous and less inhibited atmosphere in which concerts were held back in the day, there probably would be a lot more young people catching the performances.