ECSO offers ‘At the Event’ on its mobile app

Screen shot from ECSO’s mobile app
Screen shot from ECSO’s mobile app

The Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra has had its own app for about a year now, but it's getting a fresh element for Saturday's concert.

Mark Weaver, ECSO's second trombone player who deals with the group's website content and imagery, says that since this show is a special one - with a program inspired by the iPod shuffle and featuring nine shorter pieces - the orchestra is going to offer on its app a function called "At the Event." It will appear on the app at 4 p.m. Saturday.

"It's a kind of neat thing that you can go to if you have our app on your app menu, and it's specific to that evening's concert. So you don't have to go jumping around looking for stuff," Weaver says.

It's what's called "Exclusive Content," he says.

People can check in when they get to the Garde Arts Center and let others know they're there. The feature showcases information about other things happening that night, beyond the concert itself, such as the pre-concert conversation that ECSO Music Director Toshiyuki Shimada will have with composer Bill Brittelle, whose piece "The Canyons Curved Burgundy" will be premiered Saturday; rush tickets for students and active-duty military with IDs; and details on the free post-show reception.

Folks using the app can, say, get artist bios, but they can also participate live. They can go through the "Social" function at the top of the page where they can comment on the performance in real time within the app itself.

Shimada says, "It's an easy way for them to express their opinion about the concert and the feeling they get from the event. ... We are trying by all means to make our concert accessible to people, as friendly as possible."

"I'm not 100 percent sure you can do it during the concert, but I would rather people not do that," he says with a laugh.

The app - whose store name is "Eastern Connecticut Symphony" - was created about a year ago, after the ECSO board decided the group needed to upgrade its website. To do that, it used Instant Encore, which deals with arts groups like this. One of the functions available via Instant Encore was a mobile app.

Weaver says, "I do most of the web design through them, and I thought, well, it would be kind of cool to have a mobile app for people to check in when they're on the road and they don't want to mess with the website."

While, of course, concert-goers are handed programs as they enter the concert, Weaver thinks of the app as being "like a super-super-program."

The app is free. Weaver says it's offered through any app store, through iPhone or Android. People can go to whatever app store they usually use, plug in "Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra," and the ECSO app should show up, he says.

"What it does is it basically puts in the palm of your hand our entire website," Weaver says.

It allows access to videos, interviews, music, photos, artist bios and more - including a link to Twitter if someone wants to tweet about the orchestra on its Twitter account.

There are, too, audio files of some of ECSO's past performances - some are movements, and some are complete works.

Right now, there are 75 ECSO app users, and the hope is to bring in more.

"It's a great tool for engaging more people to know about Eastern Connecticut Symphony and what Toshi's doing and so on. ... I hope that people will discover it and use it and come to concerts," Weaver says.

More and more classical-music groups are seeing the value in social media and related tools. The San Francisco Symphony has been active, for instance, Weaver says. The New York Times recently ran a story about social media-savvy mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato; she saw an online campaign nab her a spot singing the National Anthem during the World Series, and her recital at Carnegie Hall was the first show at that renowned site to be streamed free on the Internet.

As for the ECSO app, Weaver says, "I think it's a neat thing to connect the audience with the orchestra more."

He adds, "... I think the more you know about what's going on onstage, the more likely you'll feel a part of it."

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