Tweeting on the lawn

July 23, 2009
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Annoyed by text-reading patrons at concerts? Well, Washington's National Symphony Orchestra is now actively encouraging it.

For an upcoming concert at Wolf Trap, it will be Tweeting live program notes to audience members on the lawn during a performance of Beethoven's "Pastoral." Read more about it here.

Obviously, this is a bid to attract a younger audience. But does such a move ultimately hurt or help? Would you subscribe to such a feed if the ISO were doing it at Conner Prairie? And, if not, would you be annoyed by those around you doing it?

Here's another news piece about a National Symphony Orchestra--not the U.S. version, but the one in Iraq. Seems like a story destined for a Heartland Film Festival documentary.

Your thoughts?
  • I think it's a great idea.

    There are so many people who perceive Twitter as this slew of unwanted information being hurled at them relentlessly. But it's just untrue. Those who would like to read the notes about the symphony as they listen--which sounds quite nice, actually--can turn on their twitter app and silently follow along. Those who do not wish to do so, won't. And those who liked it for the first movement but want to make out on their picnic blanket during the second can just, ya know, turn off their phone. There is absolutely no mandatory participation in such a feature. It's like going to a museum exhibit and opting out of the headphones with recorded tour.
  • I endured Wicked in Indianapolis across the aisle from a compulsive phone opener/texter. The light from it was very distracting to those around her. She could have cared less about that fact or the show, but that was her mother's problem, as I assume mama paid the $65 a seat for her ticket.

    I've also endured Dance Kaleidoscope concerts with the same problem. If your text life is that important, go to the lobby or stay home.

    I am opposed to cell phone use or the illumination of them in any form during an arts performance. I hope theatres start enforcing no cell phones open and illuminated rules like they do no phone or pagers ringing ones. I go to arts performance to leave the outside world behind and immerse myself in the arts experience being created in front of me for a few hours, not to have lights all of a sudden come on in my peripheral vision from a few feet away. That's just plain rude.
  • I see nothing wrong with it at outdoor venues, however relentless lighted cell phones and smart phones in movies, theaters and other live indoor performances spaces are nothing but distracting and annoying.
  • If patrons weren't informed ahead of time, or as some other people have commented - if the show is not supposed to involve technology in any way, then it is distracting and unfair to others in attendance. However, in this instance obviously patrons are aware that the particular performance will involve cell phone/Twitter use so I think it sounds like a creative way one arts organization is trying to broaden its appeal. These days almost anything the arts can do to reach out to new and diverse audiences is a good thing.
  • Isn't the point of program notes to give you some background to read before the performance, so you'll be a little better prepared to appreciate it when the performance happens? How is your experience going to be enhanced by constantly being interrupted by messages while you're trying to listen to the performance? Additional information is great, but not when it prevents you from getting immersed in the music.

    I think that using this as a tactic to attract a younger audience is insulting. Do they think so little of the attention span of younger concertgoers that they believe they have to bombard them with constant electronic stimulation to keep them interested through a 45-minute symphony?
  • You could just pull up the artist's Wikipedia entry on your iPhone.....

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