The Philadelphia Orchestra is putting high-quality recordings of its concerts online for free. An initial batch of nearly three dozen pieces from the 2018-19 season are now available for listening on the orchestra’s website — a number that will grow over time.
So far, the orchestra’s “Listen on Demand” service includes concertos with pianists Benjamin Grosvenor and Emanuel Ax, a Mahler Symphony No. 9 led by music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the Menotti opera Amahl and the Night Visitors, and new works by Nico Muhly, Hannibal, and Jake Heggie.
The orchestra previously offered online recordings, but the service was available only to orchestra donors and ticket buyers. This new one, at philorch.org/ondemand, is free to all and has been redesigned to include clickable track lists, a search function to find individual pieces and movements of works, program notes and images from concerts, and information about upcoming performances related to the online content.
For the orchestra, the point of the new service is to cultivate long-term support for the ensemble, locally and from around the world.
“This is all about engaging our audience in as many ways as possible and as meaningfully as possible,” said orchestra president and CEO Matías Tarnopolsky. “The more you burnish the brand of the Philadelphia Orchestra by sharing the art that the orchestra and Yannick and others make on stage, the more you hopefully increase ticket sales and philanthropy, too.”
The free online content isn’t expected to eat into sales of the orchestra’s CDs or downloads since the offerings for the most part do not duplicate artists and repertoire. The orchestra continues to be heard on satellite radio through SiriusXM and locally on WRTI-FM (90.1).
All of the initial concerts now online were produced for presentation on WRTI and feature the station’s on-air talent.
The number of performances ultimately available through the new “Listen on Demand” service is potentially hundreds culled from several decades, Tarnopolsky said. The new higher-resolution recordings are an improvement over the ones previously available on the orchestra’s website, he said.
“These are live performances in Verizon Hall with the audience there, and the orchestra sounds sensational. It feels like you are there.”