A cool fusion of the arts and technology was announced today – the Google Cultural Institute (I know, I’d not heard of it either) is partnering with performing arts institutes from around the world to bring 360° video of live performances to online audiences!
The Cultural Institute was originally started in 2011 as a way to bring visual art to broader audiences, and expanded in recent to show world wonders (like the Taj Mahal and Pompei) and images of historic events (such as stories from Auschwitz and the history of K-Pop). With this new expansion, the Cultural Institute hopes to bring the energy and excitement from live performances to those that don’t have the money or the ability to attend these world-class events in person.
Entering the 21st Century
Attempts to do this are nothing new, the Berlin Philharmonic has had its Digital Concert Hall subscription service, where anyone with a (reasonably priced) subscription can watch live or archived recordings of the Berlin Philharmonic on almost any device. Few American symphonies have followed in Berlin’s footsteps, unfortunately, although the Detroit Symphony has a similar arrangement with many live and archived recordings, available for free. Taking a look through the Youtube channels of other major American orchestras reveals very few that appreciate the reach that digital content can provide.
Speaking to the horn specifically, Sarah Willis, a horn player in the Berlin Phil, has done a great job of helping to lead the charge for orchestras and classical musicians in the 21st century, with her live-streamed and archived Horn Hangouts series, and even her experiments and videos with Google Glass, all of which are available on her very active Youtube channel. Here’s a small sample:
While her videos and interviews are interesting and very informative, it’s unfortunate that she’s the exception rather than the norm. There’s a large audience for classical music that is either unwilling or unable to either pay the (sometimes excessive) ticket prices, or leave the comfort of their couch to attend a classical concert. After all, Netflix and other streaming services have made convenience the expectation with entertainment – sometimes to the extant that the convenience of the entertainment is placed above the entertainment itself.
This new arrangement with Google’s Cultural Institute should hopefully make it easier for those who want to hear a high-quality, live music, theater, or opera as well as demonstrate to orchestras and other arts companies the need for a digital access point to reach a (mostly untapped) audience.
Here are some of the organizations that are partnering with the Cultural Institute:
- Berlin Philharmoniker
- Royal College of Music
- The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
- Carnegie Hall
- Lincoln Center
- Vienna State Opera
- Metropolitan Opera
- Royal Shakespeare Company
- Opéra national de Paris
- National Theater
- Prague’s National Theater
- Berlin State Opera
A more complete listing can be found right here. And make sure to watch one of the first videos of the project, featuring the Philadelphia Orchestra playing Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King” from Peer Gynt Suite No. 1, can be seen at the top of this page.