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Science & Technology - Arts & Entertainment

Philadelphia Orchestra to Premiere Drexel-Designed Interactive Concert App for Mobile Devices

October 2, 2014

LiveNote, an interactive app created at Drexel, will make its debut at the Philadelphia Orchestra this season.

The Philadelphia Orchestra, in collaboration with engineers from Drexel University’s Expressive and Creative Interaction Technologies (ExCITe) Center, is launching a mobile app that will change the way audiences experience musical performances. The app, called LiveNote™, allows concertgoers to access information about the works they are hearing, following the music with real-time musical, emotional and historical highlights. It will debut at the Free College Concert on Oct. 14 and will be available for use only at selected concerts during the course of the season.

“The Philadelphia Orchestra has a rich legacy of being at the forefront of technical innovation, and curating new ideas is part of the very fabric of our organization,” said Philadelphia Orchestra President and CEO Allison Vulgamore. “LiveNote™ is the latest initiative to experiment with harnessing the power of technology in service to the power of music, and we look forward to working with our audiences as we test and evolve this long-nurtured application.”

LiveNote™ works with Android and iOS phones. Its exclusive digital media content takes audience members beyond the music onstage by providing concert program notes, a musical glossary and information about the Orchestra. LiveNote™ can also provide text and translations for vocal works. Slides automatically advance with the music on a mobile device’s screen during a concert, providing key highlights, engaging details and images relating to the composition.

“Today, we all are finding ways to merge technology with the things that we love in our lives, including listening to music,” said Philadelphia Orchestra Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin. “I welcome the opportunity to facilitate this in the concert hall in a thoughtful manner, providing listeners with the choice to use the LiveNote™ application, or not. It is yet another option for our audiences to appreciate and enjoy the music differently.”

A critical feature of LiveNote™ is that it has been developed to have minimal impact on concertgoers in the hall and thoroughly tested in rehearsals and postlude performances. The application is designed with white text on a black background specifically to minimize light and disruption. The content is custom designed for each piece to optimize the experience of hearing the work without distraction.

“To develop LiveNote™ we had to think deeply about how to enhance the audience experience without detracting from one’s enjoyment of the music,” said Youngmoo Kim, PhD, director of the Expressive and Creative Interaction Technologies (ExCITe) Center and an associate professor in Drexel’s College of Engineering. “To accomplish this, we needed not only great technical expertise, but also a depth of knowledge and experience with music performance.”

Kim, who founded Drexel's ExCITe Center, has drawn on his background in both engineering and music to advance the LiveNote™ project. His team of Drexel undergraduate and graduate students worked closely with the Orchestra’s information technology staff and cross-organizational team to develop an app that would present information in a manner that complements the performance.

In its debut at the Orchestra’s Free College Concert, the app’s interactive features will be available during performances of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio espagnol, Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story, an excerpt from Daugherty’s Reflections on the Mississippi for tuba and orchestra, Higdon’s blue cathedral, and Strauss’s Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks. LiveNote™ will also be available during concerts from October 16-18, on two of the three pieces the Orchestra will perform: Dvořák’s The Golden Spinning Wheel and Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass.

“We had an amazing multi-disciplinary team working together to create LiveNote™ and we’ve been privileged to have the opportunity to collaborate with The Philadelphia Orchestra on such an innovative project,” Kim said.

The LiveNote™ content for October’s concerts was developed by Benjamin K. Roe, the executive director of the Staunton, Va.-based Heifetz International Music Institute, which is dedicated to helping talented young musicians become well-rounded artists by improving their physical and verbal communication skills as well as their technical agility and musicianship, self-confidence, and leadership capacity both on- and offstage.

LiveNote™ will be a companion to Playbill which will continue to be distributed at performances when LiveNote™ is available.

LiveNote™ is the latest in The Philadelphia Orchestra’s imaginative and original approach to technology throughout its history. During the Orchestra’s 2014 Tour of Asia & China Residency the ensemble’s May 25 concert at the Shanghai Grand Theatre was the first symphonic webcast from China to an international audience by a Chinese company, and was viewed by nearly 250,000 people. The webcast was broadcast in partnership with Xinhui Media Group.

In addition to being the first Orchestra to be recorded electrically, in 1925, it was the first to perform its own commercially sponsored radio broadcast (in 1929, on NBC), the first to perform on the soundtrack of a feature film (Paramount’s The Big Broadcast of 1937), the first to appear on a national television broadcast (in 1948, on CBS) and the first major orchestra to give a live cybercast of a concert on the internet (in 1997). The Orchestra also became the first major orchestra to multi-cast a concert to large-screen venues through the Internet2 network.

LiveNote is available now and can be downloaded from the Apple Store and Google Play.

For more information about LiveNote™ visit

LiveNote™ was funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation with additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Media Contact:

Britt Faulstick