ROCO is the first professional orchestra to premiere Octava, a brand new smart phone app that’s changing the concert-going experience. Developed by Linda Dusman, composer, and Eric Smallwood, artist, from the University of Maryland, it delivers real-time program commentary from musicians and guest artists. It’s not just another way to deliver program notes, however; we have a printed program for that. Instead, think of it like a director’s commentary or VH1’s Pop-Up Videos. ROCO has found a way to talk and play at the same time! Enjoy both our musical and literary conversation with you.
What Does Octava Do?
Octava gives the concert-goer “behind the scenes” info on the music from the musicians’ perspective. For each Octava-enabled piece on the program, the app delivers comments from the musicians, about what they are playing or thinking, at the exact moment in the music that corresponds to that comment. It’s almost as if they are playing for you and speaking to you at the same time! If Alecia Lawyer, for example, has an oboe solo, or a particular passage she finds especially interesting or challenging, you’ll see what she’s thinking about that passage as she performs it live.
How does Octava work?
At precise moments in the music, a musician’s comment appears automatically on your smartphone – you don’t have to do anything! Because of this precise timing, you can hear or see exactly what the musician is commenting on as he or she is playing. Furthermore, each comment is accompanied by the musician’s name, instrument, and picture, so you can find them in the orchestra. Just as we’ve replaced traditional intermission with Take Five, where our musicians don nametags and head into the audience, Octava brings our audience more directly into contact with both our musicians and the music making happening on stage.
Q: Isn’t cell phone glare distracting for those who don’t with to participate?
A: No, actually! First of all, Octava utilizes dark screen technology, so any glare is minimal. Secondly, we always leave our house lights on, anyway, so our audience can read our innovative programs and more easily see all of the musicians. Finally, since the comments in Octava are generated automatically, there is a minimum of added motion in the audience.
Q: This just appeals to a younger generation, right?
A: Not at all! We’ve had users ranging from 13-91 years old. Many of our older patrons were very excited to test the new platform. In fact, the most enthusiastic one was the 91 year old; she came an hour early to the hall just to be sure she downloaded it and could operate it without distraction!
Q: Will following along distract me from what’s happening on stage?
A: Nope! What you read in the app will actually be calling your attention to what your ears are hearing in that moment, or what your eyes can see right then. Octava users so far have told us that the app added a lot to their concert experience!
Q: Does the app use a lot of mobile data?
A: Data usage is actually quite minimal – no worries there!
Q: What does the app cost?
A: It is free to download in both the App Store and Google Play.
– ROCO was the first professional orchestra to premiere Octava.
– ROCO was the first orchestra of any sort to use Octava in Texas.
– We often get comments, not only from our fabulous musicians, but also from our wonderful guest conductors and composers! What could be more intriguing than hearing directly from the person who wrote the world premiere being performed right in front of you?
How Do I Get In On This?
One of the exciting things about Octava is that is can be used at both our live concerts or while following along with our live stream!
• Go the App Store or Google Play, search for Octava (it’s free!), and download it to your phone.
• Open the app and press “start” before the first Octava – enabled piece starts (this info is printed in the program, and announced from the stage for those following along with the live stream). Once the orchestra begins an Octava-enabled piece, the comments will be delivered to your phone automatically, right as the music reaches that point. All you have to do is listen, read, and enjoy!