Tuesday 3 November 2020

Replacing the audience by avatars: InsideOut Digital brings an innovative approach to digital concert giving

David Bernard and the Park Avenue Chamber Symphony prepare for November's interactive digital concert; they were the first NYC orchestra to return to rehearsal post-lockdown
David Bernard and the Park Avenue Chamber Symphony prepare for November's interactive digital concert; they were the first New York City orchestra to return to rehearsal post-lockdown

Conductor David Bernard's InsideOut concerts in New York have typically involved putting the audience in the orchestra, sitting them side by side with the musicians and allowing them to ask questions. With the on-set of social distancing and other restrictions, such innovations become difficult. InsideOut and the Park Avenue Chamber Symphony (of which Bernard is music director) have extended their existing partnership into the digital realm to create InsideOut Digital.

For the digital experience, Bernard wants to create a way to make the audience at home still feel part of the concert, to still relate to the musicians. Part of this is high quality sound, being Inside the event, but at InsideOut concerts audience members could ask questions of conductor and players.

So for InsideOut Digital, cameras will be placed inside the orchestra, and two humans seated amidst the orchestra will act as 'avatars' for the watching audience - spectators will send messages to the avatars, who will then read the questions and comments, for Bernard and his musicians to respond.

Bernard believes that InsideOut Digital serves and improves the immediate digital necessity, giving viewers a richer concert experience, and works - as the industry must - to maintain the primacy of the 'real thing'. "We have to give a real flavour of it," he concludes, "or we all risk having a much-diminished audience when we return. This way, instead of diminishing that audience, I believe we can even grow it."

The first InsideOut Digital is on 22 November 2020 at 3pm Eastern Time and will the program will illustrate the shock and brilliance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 'Eroica' through comparisons to Mozart’s Symphony No. 39. The event will be streamed on Facebook, further details from the Facebook event page.


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