Orchestra adds audio commentary to its concerts

Orchestra adds audio commentary to its concerts


norman lebrecht

June 21, 2018

Message from the Gothenburg Symphony in Sweden:

Gothenburg Symphony has produced audio description introductions to its concerts  … to allow more people to get a feeling of the interplay between conductor and orchestra, and to get an impression of the stage and how the musicians are seated.

Audio Description Introduction provides visual information verbally for people who are blind or visually impaired. We hope others will also enjoy these introductions of selected concerts of the Gothenburg Symphony provided by Jennifer Hawkins. This is a pilot project and we are committed to making it the best possible.


Here’s an example:

‘He is clean shaven, has full lips and long, straight nose, a square jaw and strong neck. He is slim and lithe. He is dressed …’


  • Patrick says:

    “His buttocks, his buttocks! Do tell us about his buttocks!”

  • M2N2K says:

    “He is clean shaven, has full lips”… This must be Semyon Bychkov! “He is slim and lithe”… Darn, I was wrong again!

  • Garry Humphreys says:

    Audio description has been a feature of English concert halls and theatres for many years, notably the Talking Notes service pioneered on the South Bank by Gregory York (aka Malcolm Ruthven), initially using former Radio Three colleagues from the golden era of the 1970s such as Peter Barker. So not quite sure why this news from Gothenburg is being regarded as such a novelty as it was happening in London and elsewhere (I think also at The Anvil, Basingstoke) more than 25 years ago, delivered via individual handset and headphones for those who chose to use it.

  • Robert Holmén says:

    Those will be great for old, blind Swedes who speak English.

    • Stefan Nävermyr says:

      These introductions are also available in Swedish, as all visitors to gsoplay.se already know.

      Stefan Nävermyr
      Editor Gothenburg Symphony

  • Bruce says:

    Why do people think the visual aspect of concerts is so important? As if vision-impaired people (or people listening on the radio, if that still happens) are missing something because all they get is the sound of the music.