When the National Symphony Orchestra performs tonight, it'll supplement Beethoven's "Pastoral" Symphony with 140-character notes from the conductor, sent to members of the audience via Twitter. Anyone with a Web-ready mobile device can follow the conductor's notes by subscribing to the NSOatWolfTrap Twitter feed.
To be clear, the conductor won't be standing in front of everyone, typing out quick notes on his cell phone. They'll be prepared ahead of time and sent by an engineer via the Twitter site, with each tweet coinciding with key moments in the score. According to the NSO Twitter feed, organizers plan to send about 50 tweets during the show, between 8 and 10 p.m. That's a new tweet nearly every other minute.
The Washington Post offers an example of one of the prepared tweets: "In my score Beethoven has printed Nightingale=flute Quail=oboe Cuckoo=clarinet -- a mini concerto for woodwind/birds."
The idea is to try new ways to reach a broader and younger audience, and to help listeners better connect with the music. I get the idea, but this seems so obnoxious to me. Who wants to be sitting next to someone who's constantly fumbling around with a glowing iPhone or BlackBerry during a classical music concert? I'm really not a Luddite, but the whole cell-phone-at-a-concert trend has been an ongoing source of irritation for me. Even at a rock show, it's annoying to be surrounded by people texting through the whole thing, staring down wall-eyed at their wagging thumbs. It's like a form of digital visual pollution.
What do you think?