San Diego Symphony Joins Internet Start-Up to Offer Concerts as Downloads

Classic Arts News   San Diego Symphony Joins Internet Start-Up to Offer Concerts as Downloads
The San Diego Symphony has partnered up with to offer live recordings of its concerts as digital downloads. The first orchestra to join InstantEncore, the SDS will start with offering its live recording of Schumann's Symphony No. 2 for $3.59.

"What we're doing is something that others may eventually follow," orchestra executive director Edward B. "Ward" Gill told the Union-Tribune of San Diego. "It's the wave of the future."

Gill said the partnership would "absolutely" improve attendance. Though the SDS's Pops concerts are successful, average attendance to its main series at Copley Symphony Hall, Jacobs' Masterworks, dropped from 68 percent to 62 percent between 2005 and 2007. "I think there will be a direct correlation between the number of hits on InstantEncore and the number of ticket sales at Symphony Hall," he said.

Gill also anticipates reaching an agreement with the orchestra's musicians in the next few months. "The good part is that [they] want us to do this," he said. "They're willing to give authorization."

The SDS plans to have up to 30 programs online by the year's end; streaming audio of future concerts, live or delayed, is also in the works.

"We're not proposing that we eliminate the beauty of live performances," added Gill. "We're just saying that we should extend the experience as broadly and deeply as possible.", whose aim is to extend the concert experience beyond the concert hall itself through audio and video streaming, was founded last year by Manhattan School of Music cello faculty member Margot T. Drakos and San Diego-based venture capitalist William Stensrud. Drakos was initially inspired by a dream in which she was able to purchase digital recordings of a concert she had just attended at Lincoln Center. Stensrud experienced firsthand the connection between the audience and musicians when he was a roadie in 1967 for the Grateful Dead, who encouraged concertgoers to record their performances.

"That really energized the audience," Stensrud told the Union-Tribune. "People became consumers not through some generic recording but through a performance they happened to witness."

The SDS's recording of Schumann's Symphony No. 2 was made last month and includes program notes. Also posted on InstantEncore are an upcoming concert schedule and link to buy tickets for the Jacobs' Masterworks Series.

Other musicians and organizations that have joined InstantEncore so far include the Miami String Quartet, violinist Soovin Kim, pianists Rohan De Silva and Akira Eguchi, the Cleveland International Piano Competition and the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis.

"We want to set the standard and be the YouTube for classical music — the place where people go to learn about experiencing classical music," said Stensrud.

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