Monday, February 20, 2012

Charlotte Symphony -- ready for its closeup

Audiences will see the Charlotte Symphony next month as they never have.

At the concerts March 30 and 31, video cameras will zero in on the stage. The images of the conductor and players at work will be beamed onto a screen above the orchestra, giving the audience an up-close-and-personal view of the musicians at work, the orchestra announced Monday.

The orchestra also will let the listeners vote on an encore to cap off the concerts. A list of options will flash onto the video screen, and the audience will vote via text message before the concert and during intermission.

This is the orchestra's latest venture aimed at revamping the concertgoing experience. Classical music, which has been presented in much the same way for generations, has to adapt to modern times, says the sponsor of the new ingredients.

"In our rapidly changing high-tech environment, innovation, creativity and an entrepreneurial spirit are essential ingredients for success," says Francisco Alvarado, president of Marand Builders, in a statement.

Drawing in new listeners ties in with the orchestra's years-long effort to put financial crises behind it. The orchestra is now in the third season of its KnightSounds series, which offers shorter concerts, a more-casual atmosphere and pre-concert mingling in hopes of attracting people who are new to classical music. The next KnightSounds program -- this Friday and Saturday, Feb. 24 and 25 -- features the choral blockbuster "Carmina Burana."

In the late-March concerts, Christopher Warren-Green will lead the orchestra in works by Tchaikovsky, climaxing with the tempestuous Symphony No. 4. The program is part of monthlong festival that will bring together Charlotte's leading cultural groups in a celebration of Tchaikovsky and Russian culture.