At Music Australia we like to keep abreast of innovative ideas overseas orchestras are adopting. The latest comes from New York’s youngest orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra of New York (PONY). It is adding full-length films shot in 4K to its concerts. These will be projected on a “massive screen”, along with imagery about the composers’ biographies and live video of the audience captured on drone cameras, the orchestra says.
The use of visual projections and moving images in classical concerts is now familiar practice – the Sydney Symphony Orchestra did it most recently in its From the Canyons to the Stars concert, which featured video projections by Deborah O’Grady (Limelight’s reviewer Clive Paget loved it). But combining classical concerts with full-length film appears to be new territory.
PONY explains in its press release: “Shot with the latest in film equipment, including drone cameras, the films draw imagery from the composers’ personal lives and the stories and themes explored in their symphonies. Six robotic cameras will roam the orchestra and project live images of the musicians on the screen, drawing the audience close to their intensity and athleticism. Dynamic, state-of-the-art lighting more typically found in pop and rock arena concerts will add another visual dimension”.
Part of PONY’s idea is to do away with conventional program notes and tell audiences what they need to know about the music in audio-visual terms. Says video designer Joachim Schamberger, who is behind the project: “My goal with the visuals is to enhance the experience and suggest a story, while leaving enough room for the audience’s own imagination to respond to the musical storytelling of the orchestra and chorus. My hope is to satisfy both musicologist and first-time concert-goer”.
It seems an obvious and good idea – we hope see what comes of it. Read more about it in a piece by The Observer’s Ashley Steves.