Friday, May 22, 2009

Technological Breakthroughs

If you remember the web diary that I wrote for the Weekly's Cliburn coverage four years ago, you'll have noticed some changes. Now I can italicize the names of pieces and include links to audio and video footage, like I did in the last post. I'm still running out between sessions to post from the press room across the street from Bass Hall. It occurs to me that if I had a Blackberry and a Twitter feed, I could tweet during the performances. The sound of my texting would then quickly get me grabbed by the necktie and ejected from the hall.

The Cliburn itself has kept up with changing media to make themselves more user-friendly. You can log onto their webcasting site and not only catch all the performances online, but also see post-performance interviews with the contestants backstage as well as behind-the-scenes footage. Watch the performances, and you can compare notes (no pun intended) with me. You're almost better off watching from home.

Ah, but if you're at home, you won't see the big screen above the stage. It's new, too. The screen carries a video feed from a camera that's behind the pianist, so everybody can now see the pianists' hands. This is great, because people want to see the hands, so they gravitate toward the left side of the hall, but the right side of the hall is where you get better sound from the piano (though the acoustics at the Bass are good enough that you don't lose too much by sitting on the left).

Alas, not all technology is good. Ran Dank's Scriabin performance was almost at its end when somebody's cell phone went off. And here I thought we'd get through at least one session without that happening. Well, I still hold out hope. People, leave the cell phones at home. Your fellow music fans will appreciate it.

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