New York Philharmonic Conducted with an iPad

November 28, 2011

10:00 am

Tired of turning pages in orchestra, I used my eighth grade science project to invent a mechanical page turner – a clumsy contraption that let you turn pages by quickly pulling a nob attached to them with string.

But it appears my masterpiece was doomed to obsolescence, given the advent of the iPad. From the New York Philharmonic’s Tumblr on Wednesday:

If Mozart were alive in this digital age, we have no doubt the master would be an early adopter, which is why it’s fitting that Jeffey Kahane conducted and played Mozart’s Symphony No. 33 from a score on an iPad last night – a Philharmonic first.

As a former musician, I can imagine a wave of possibilities that flow from bringing iPads into concert halls. Orchestras could read music off iPads, thanks to a $31 iPad music stand adaptor. During performances, conductors could send reminders to the orchestra, or even to particular sections: start getting louder, remember not to rush, etc. Last year, one musician even played an encore on an iPad using the Magic Piano app.

For audience members, an iPad app could mean a more engaging listening experience: they could follow the score and get program notes in real-time – for example, on why the cello solo represents the beginning of spring – rather than reading them in a printed pamphlet.

Some organizations are already using technology to get the audience in the door. London’s Royal Opera House recently launched an iOS game called The Show Must Go On, where players manage a stage production, to earn extra money and “widen audiences by getting more people interested in opera and ballet.” The Los Angeles Philharmonic’s conducting game for iPhone celebrates its superstar conductor Gustavo Dudamel, and the New York Philharmonic already has its own iOS app with concert schedules, podcasts, and more.

It’s clear that, with the approval of famous institutions like the Philharmonic, technology is bound to invade even the most classical of industries.

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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact

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