"GOOD evening and welcome to the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Kimmel Center. At this time, we request you kindly turn your cellphone on."
Believe it or not, that's what concertgoers will be hearing (or words akin) at a series of shows, starting with the Free College Concert Oct. 14, then continuing with subscription concerts Oct. 16-18, as the orchestra introduces "LiveNote," an "interactive concert guide for mobile devices."
Loaded as an application onto an iOS (iPhone) or Android smartphone, LiveNote invites concertgoers to dive deeper into the music as it's being played, with a computer-cued, on-screen slide show.
The collegiates' concert night will offer insights into Rimsky-Korsakov's "Capriccio espagnol" and Bernstein's "Symphonic Dances from 'West Side Story.' " Weekend fetes will have synchronized commentary for Dvorak's "The Golden Spinning Wheel" and Janacek's "Glagolitic Mass."
"As you listen, LiveNote listens along with you, providing guideposts at just the right moment in the music," Concertmaster David Kim explains in a YouTube video. "LiveNote's custom-written notes include musical, emotional and historical highlights, as well as texts, translations and musical structures, all on your device at exactly the right time."
But wait. There's more to meet the eye.
"At any time during the performance," Kim says, "you can access a digital version of the program notes, a musical glossary and information about the Philadelphia Orchestra."
Drexel University engineers helped the orchestra develop LiveNote, with funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.
"We had to think about how to enhance the audience experience without detracting from one's enjoyment of the music," said Youngmoo Kim, an associate professor of engineering and director of Drexel's Expressive & Creative Interaction Technologies ExCITe Center. The application is designed with gray text on a black background so that screens won't glow in a darkened Verizon Hall.
LiveNote builds on (while downsizing) a 1996 Philadelphia Orchestra enhanced-screen initiative (also Knight funded) reaching out to younger, info-craving multitaskers. That experiment threw video close-ups of the musicians on rock-concert-style screens flanking the stage during select performances.
"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 orchestra president and CEO Allison Vulgamore.
That history of innovation includes: being the first orchestra recorded electrically, in 1925, at Victor studios in Camden; first to have its own commercially sponsored radio broadcast (1929, on NBC); first to appear on the soundtrack of a feature film (Paramount's "The Big Broadcast of 1937"); and first to appear on a national TV broadcast (1948, CBS).
In 2007-08, the Fab Philadelphians were first to multicast a concert to large-screen venues. This year, they were first to webcast a symphonic concert from China to an international audience.
While next week's concerts are the only ones currently prepped with LiveNote - written by Benjamin Roe, of the Heifetz International Music Institute - Vulgamore said, "We look forward to working with our audiences as we test and evolve this long-nurtured application."
And Philadelphia Orchestra Music Director Yannick Nezet-Seguin diplomatically welcomed "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."