Boston Symphony trials a real-time app for live concerts

Boston Symphony trials a real-time app for live concerts


norman lebrecht

January 25, 2018

Press release:



The Boston Symphony Orchestra, in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will offer ConcertCue, an innovative real-time program note app during the orchestra’s “Casual Fridays” program on Friday, February 9.

ConcertCue presents contextual program notes and images on concert-goers’ mobile devices in real-time during the musical performance. ConcertCue will run during the second half of the BSO concert, when the orchestra performs the world premiere of American composer Sean Shepherd’s Express Abstractionism, a co-commission of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Gewandhaus Orchestra.

In addition to insightful program notes, the app will include work by such abstract artists as Alexander Calder, Gerhard Richter, Wassily Kandinsky, and Piet Modrian whose work inspired Shepherd’s new piece of music. The ConcertCue app was developed by Eran Egozy, the founder of Harmonix Music Systems, which is best-known for the wildly popular video games “Guitar Hero” and “Rock Band.” Eran is a member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Media and Technology Committee, which is headed by former MIT president Susan Hockfield.



  • Anon says:

    The LSO has been doing this since last October 2017.

  • DrummerMan says:

    The original version of this, Concert Companion (Coca) was invented by my good friend Roland Valliere, back in the day when we all used Palm Pilots

    • MWnyc says:

      And it’s unfortunate that, at least in the States, it seems like each major orchestra that tries this seems to feel the need to reinvent this particular wheel rather than using something that has already been developed.

    • Jasper says:

      I used the Concert Companion at a NY Phil concert 10-15 years ago. It was made available to a limited number of subscribers, and required pre-registration. The unit was online for only a part of the performance, because pianist Leon Fleisher refused permission for any close-up views of his hands during the piece that he played.

      Overall, I loved the Concert Companion, but it was one-and-done at the NY Phil, never to re-appear.


  • Matt says:

    The RPO has been doing this since 2016

  • phf655 says:

    It is disgraceful that anyone can even imagine doing something like this. It is impossible to listen to music surrounded by people who are messing around with their phones, or surrounded by little screens with flashing, moving, lights nearby. This is an admission that people can’t, or won’t simply sit and listen in an increasingly visual environment. It seems analagous to people who walk through a museum or gallery simply snapping pictures of everything on the wall, without taking the time to stand and look. Not only is it a symptom of lack of understanding, but it makes the experience terrible for those who choose not to participate. I don’t know the solution, but this isn’t it.

    • Patrick says:

      Absolutely, correct PHF. However, I know of an amazing device (usually used in pairs) for use during orchestra performances. They are low cost and require little maintenance if taken care of. They are ergonomic and un-distracting to use. Ingenious devices, really.

      The ears.

    • Anon says:

      Totally agree. The idiots are on the advance.
      Time to revisit Neil Postman’s visionary book ‘Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business’

  • Saul Davis says:

    We must all be much more vigilant against the degrading of classical music, perhaps the only pure art form left. Anything can be visual art these days, dance, or theater. Classical music must uphold its standards, and one of those is the absence of all electronics from performances, onstage or off! It must be acoustic, no amplification, period. No visual aids. That’s what program notes are for! Can’t anyone read anymore? Moreover, it allows the manufacturers of the apps and phones to intrude on the concert space and experience and unnaturally, claim ownership of an aspect of it. I have no sympathy for the people who would resort to using such things. Like studying an opera libretto, read up before going, do some preparation, and stop dressing down for concerts! (And that includes performers.)