Streaming visual technology will bring PSO concert to audiences

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WQED and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra are changing the way the world listens to classical music. They‘‍re also changing the way the world watches classical music. 

With the help of C360 live streaming technology, the PSO’‍s performance Sunday at the Allegheny County Summer Concert Series at Hartwood Acres literally will offer anyone in the world a chance to see and hear classical music for free. 

The concert will be presented in conjunction with Classical WQED-FM and exhibit a visual live streaming technology that offers an option to zoom in on a particular musician or watch the coverage from various angles. 

“All you need is an Internet connection and Adobe Flash,” said Ron Davenport Jr., general counsel to Sheridan Broadcasting. He began working with the idea of the C360 in 2003, and the patent was approved in October 2013. He hopes to offer the C360 for other events such as operas and ballets. 

Although the PSO has streamed audio before, this will be the first live video streaming. 

“Because it’‍s an outdoor concert, we hope it’‍ll be visually interesting to see,” said Jim Cunningham, artistic administrator for WQED-FM and host of the live stream. He especially thinks the program will be appealing because it will feature a lot of patriotic music, such as Morton Gould’‍s “American Salute.” The concert, conducted by PSO resident conductor Fawzi Haimor, will feature an array of pieces, including Bernstein‘‍s Overture to “Candide” and Copland’‍s “Letter From Home.” 

Mr. Davenport said that watching a concert in person is the “best way to see something like this,” but the live stream appeals to a wider, national audience, including friends and families of musicians who may not live near Hartwood Acres’ performance area in Hampton. 

“There’s some emotion that goes on in seeing a classical orchestra perform, and by watching it [through streaming] they’ll experience some of that emotion. It’s not often we can show the Pittsburgh Symphony with some visual experience,” said Maria Pisano, WQED marketing associate. “We broadcast them on the air, but this is just another way to experience that.” 

Ideally, this technology will not replace the experience of going to a symphony, but rather increase interest in it.  The idea is still fledgling, but Mr. Cunningham noted a potential in bringing in a “newer, larger, perhaps younger” audience that may be inclined to either purchase tickets to watch a symphony online or purchase tickets for a live show. 

“More people are hearing classical music more than before with streaming, and on demand. It’‍s a good time for classical music,” Mr. Cunningham said. “We hope people will be turned on enough that they’‍ll want to come to Heinz Hall and go to a concert in the winter.” 

Mr. Cunningham appeared confident of a fruitful future for classical music. 

“We’ll see how it goes, but I think it’s the way of the future, no question,” he said. 

The concert will begin in person and online at 8:15 p.m. Sunday. The online concert will be available at pittsburghsymphony.org/hartwood or at wqedfm.org, and the performance will be broadcast live on WQED-FM 89.3. 


Kate Mishkin: kmishkin@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1352.

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