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InsideOut Concerts and The Park Avenue Chamber Symphony Launch Innovative 'InsideOut Digital' Format

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The interactive concert will take place on November 22 at 3pm Eastern Time.

InsideOut Concerts and The Park Avenue Chamber Symphony Launch Innovative 'InsideOut Digital' Format

As with most performing arts organizations in the time of COVID, the Park Avenue Chamber Symphony (PACS) is confronted with the challenge of building audiences when live in-person concerts are not possible. Many have attempted to fill this void with video content, whether recorded or streamed - yet there is a clear need for a more innovative solution, one that catches some of the sense of, and inspires people's eventual return to, the real thing.

Leveraging its ongoing partnership with InsideOut Concerts, the Park Avenue Chamber Symphony under Music Director David Bernard has reimagined its 2020-2021 season with an innovative digital approach that breaks down the fourth wall - allowing remote audience members to fully experience an interactive concert event.

"There is no more urgent problem facing the entire classical music industry," says David Bernard, "Replacing live, in-person performances with video-whether it is streamed or simply recorded-appears to be the only option, but it does weaken, rather than strengthen, the connection between classical artists and their audiences. The wide availability of video performances on YouTube and elsewhere begs the question, why do we need more of the same? This situation is not all that different than the challenge of building classical music audiences before COVID. How do you get them to come? Classical musicians, and all performers for that matter, must always focus on what audiences crave. And the answer to the question is the same now as it was then-they crave, and are willing to commit to, thrilling experiences. With InsideOut Concerts we delivered thrilling experiences with a program that included seating audiences entirely within the orchestra. So we knew now that we had to find a way to leverage digital technologies to deliver something closer to live interactive experiences."

For the solution, Bernard went back to the underlying concepts behind the InsideOut Concerts approach he had created, bringing audiences inside the orchestra, allowing them to experience the sound in 'high definition' (as it were) and at various times during the events ask questions of conductor and players. So this version - InsideOut Digital - will place 'avatars' inside the orchestra in place of audience members; literally in their place, as viewers watching from their computers and mobile devices will be able to send in questions in real time, which the avatars will then bring to the performers at suitable points during the event, for Bernard and his musicians to respond to.

"Is it the same as the live concert event?" says Bernard, "No, but it's a dynamic-changing progression from the usual streaming format where cameras are placed in front of the orchestra and viewers at home are left passive. One of the greatest things about live music is that audience members are part of it, they feel the musicians and the musicians feel them - and we can replicate some sense of that with this format. We stay in touch with each other during the event, we respond to each other, and we all also stay in touch with a sense of the things that make the in-person live experience worth going out for. We literally knock down the fourth wall, even though the audience is remote."

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 flavor 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 interactive concert will take place on November 22 at 3pm Eastern Time. The program is entitled "Beethoven's Bombshell', to salute both Beethoven's 250th anniversary year and the moment he changed the course of music history with his Third Symphony, the 'Eroica'. The program will illustrate the shock and brilliance of the 'Eroica' through comparisons to Mozart's Symphony No. 39.

While the orchestra, conductor and audience avatars assemble at the DiMenna Center For Classical Music, in Manhattan, the event will be streamed via Facebook Live. Tickets are on sale now for $20 via this link.

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