Vaughan Williams ~ The Lark Ascending
Does The Lark Ascending tweet?
I just heard that an American orchestra is offering “tweet seats” at its concerts. See there? It even rhymes. This is a good thing — I think. After googling “orchestra twitter seats” and scrolling through all the ticket links I found an NPR story on the subject.
The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra has about 25 seats reserved for those who want to follow along on Twitter with a facilitator from the symphony. Patrons follow a designated #hashtag and comment during the concert.
At first I thought this was a good idea but upon further reflection I’m not so sure. I don’t care about people using their phones during concerts, but I feel as though there are better options.
Let’s go the opposite direction. Leave your phone in the car. No phones allowed in the concert hall. So what about emergencies?
What about them? Emergencies used to occur before cell phones and pagers and the phone and the telegraph and the printing press and scribes and written language, and spoken language existed. Having a phone at the concert won’t avert or mitigate any emergencies anywhere. If something happens at the concert itself we need to remember this is a classical music concert. There will probably be a “doctor in the house” and a staff person can call 911. It only takes one phone to make the call.
I think that orchestras and opera companies could find a middle passage here. What if there were a designated social media window at the top of the concert and after intermission?
Someone with public speaking ability could come out, welcome the audience, and then invite them to do whatever they wanted with their phones. Take a selfie with the orchestra in the background and share it. Take a Vine video and share it with the world. Let every concert start with a social media orgy for about three minutes and then tell everyone to keep it in their pants or purses until intermission.
This little interaction could be followed up with a short invitation to interact and connect in a different way.
“Now that we’ve connected in a virtual way, let's focus on connecting in the old way. Let’s connect as an audience and as performers. Let’s all bring our human stories together with that of the composer and allow it to saturate the concert. We’re for connecting. We’re for it in a way that is outside the 'e-world.' There is only one chance to connect with these people who are playing the music of this person. It’s right now. Enjoy.”
There it is again — the philosophy of ichigo ichie.
The Twitter activity in Cincinnati is trying to create an interactive experience, but a concert is an interactive experience all by itself. I fear we’re forgetting how to interact without the guidance of a small illuminated rectangle.
In discussing this topic with a friend, I was informed that Lamb’s Players does something like this already.