Posted at 7:00 AM on October 29, 2008
by Gillian Martin
I often find video screens at live events distancing--why go to a performance or athletic event live if you're still watching it on TV? But music critic Andrew Adler thinks they work pretty well for the Louisville (that's LOO-uh-vll) Symphony, and thinks that a new development called "Bird's Eye Technology" could really enhance the audience's experience:
While [pianist Lang Lang] was performing with the Philharmonic Society of Orange County in California, he employed what's dubbed "Bird's Eye Technology" -- in which a camera mounted on the ceiling gives the audience a close-up, overhead view of Lang's fingers as they dash up and down the keyboard.
Consider how this particular video application might change the habits of listeners in the hall. Rather than jockeying for seats on the left side of the auditorium -- the better to see a pianist's hands -- they could sit anywhere they'd like and still have a perfect view of those fabulous fingers.
Read more here.
As a former musician in the Louisville Orchestra, I would like to offer some background. The video screens were introduced by the new CEO, Brad Broeker, after the orchestra had narrowly avoided Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Mr. Broeker believed that the screens would enhance the orchestra's performances in Whitney Hall, a cavernous, 2600-seat, multi-purpose hall in the Kentucky Center for the Arts, where the stage seems miles away from the nearest row of seats. At first skeptical, most musicians (myself included!) came to support the idea, believing that these screens would help to not only enhance our particular concert experience, but also begin to make musician faces more recognizable to audiences and, ultimately, in the community.
In terms of audience reaction, I generally found the numbers to be about 2/3 supportive, while the remaining 1/3 found the screens distracting.
Tim Zavadil, Clarinet and Bass Clarinet, Minnesota Orchestra