"The electronic program notes made for a memorable event. Five days later, I was still thinking about the music."

— Julie Crain, a Concert Companion user,
     (as quoted in The New York Times)

About the Concert Companion

The Concert Companion (CoCo) is an exciting new interpretive aid or “experience enhancement” for classical music audiences. Using state of the art wireless technology, CoCo delivers explanatory text, program notes and video images to hand-held devices – in real time with the music.

CoCo provides a value-added experience akin to museum audio tours - except CoCo is a visual enhancement of an aural experience, instead of the other way around - making the music accessible to a greater number of listeners.

The Concert Companion, developed under the auspices of the Kansas City Symphony, has generated considerable interest and attention. It comes at a time when the orchestra field is experimenting with new formats and concert enhancements to attract new audiences. Project funders include the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation as well as DST Systems and The Hall Family Foundation in Kansas City.

Feature articles on the Concert Companion have appeared in The New York Times, San Jose Mercury News, Denver Post, Kansas City Star, Symphony magazine and many other national and international publications. A feature segment devoted to the project aired on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered.”

The Concert Companion was tested three times in 2010: with the Kansas City Symphony, Aspen Music Festival, and Saratoga Performing Arts Center with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Focus groups, facilitated by Audience Insight LLC, were convened in all three locations.

Key Themes and Observations from the Prototype Test Reports

• The Concert Companion strongly appeals to people who have little experience with classical music.

• The Concert Companion should be seen primarily as a means of broadening the audience for orchestra concerts, and secondarily as a means of deepening the experience for conventional concertgoers.

• Experienced concertgoers would likely use the Concert Companion as an interpretive aid for new and challenging compositions.

• Results suggest that orchestras can best use the Concert Companion as an audience development and educational tool.

• The most common reaction from users who liked the device is that they want to hear the piece again; they feel more connected to the music. The Concert Companion helps people understand and appreciate classical music and become better listeners.

To learn more about how audiences like the Concert Companion, read the full Audience Insight report from the Aspen and Saratoga tests. [downloadable PDF, 400kb

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