music of the spheres

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On October 13th, Ben played a concert at Carnegie Hall with Gil Shaham and The Philadelphia Orchestra. Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducted this program entitled “For Love of Country” which included selections from Grieg’s Suite No. 1 (Peer Gynt), and during the performance he noticed a number of globes onstage that he thought were cameras. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but earlier this week Carnegie Hall issued a news release about its new partnership with the Google Cultural Institute. The Google Cultural Institute is self-described as a technology that brings together millions of artifacts from multiple partners, with the stories that bring them to life, in a virtual museum. This new resource is for the culturally curious who want to discover artworks, collections and stories from around the world and for cultural institutions who want to showcase and share their exhibits with a global audience.

The press release from Carnegie Hall connects this project to classical music:

“…Online audiences are now invited to step on to Carnegie Hall’s stage alongside internationally-renowned performers, take a behind-the-scenes tour of the iconic landmark building, or browse a variety of engaging multimedia exhibits, opening doors in new ways to one of the greatest concert halls in the world.

This new interactive Carnegie Hall content was unveiled today as part of the Google Cultural Institute’s ambitious new global online exhibition designed to share the unique and powerful experience of the performing arts…”

As it turns out, the globes onstage in October were Photo Spheres similar to the cameras that are used to create panoramic street views on Google Maps. They filmed during The Philadelphia Orchestra’s performance of Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King,” and now the videos are combined to offer an interactive view from different vantage points in the orchestra. This idea is not entirely new, even to Google. For years now, musicians have been experimenting with the now discontinued Google Glass, recording rehearsals and performances and uploading videos to offer new perspectives. Here are some examples of those projects:

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What makes this “360-degree” video exciting is the viewer’s ability to choose where to look — whether it is around at the musicians in a particular section, down to the floor, or up to the beautiful ceiling above Carnegie’s stage. I love this idea, and I look forward to more and more videos like it! When I was a teenager, my dad remarked that it must be so loud and exciting to sit in an orchestra and to feel the sound all around me. He knew that experiencing music from within an orchestra was different than listening from the audience or hearing it on the radio, and it certainly is. Hopefully projects like this one will inspire more young people to study instrumental music and aspire to perform it at a high level.

To get the full experience, view on your smartphone, tablet, or other handheld device:


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