“On a subfreezing night with an untested concert format, is it any surprise that the Philadelphia Orchestra’s first LiveNote Night, designed to attract new audiences to classical music, was preaching to the semi-converted on Wednesday at the Kimmel Center?,” writes David Patrick Stearns in Thursday’s (1/15) Philadelphia Inquirer. “The centerpiece of Wednesday’s concert” featuring Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 was the LiveNote app, “which gave running commentary on the music’s structure and content, available for use during the performance…. Here smartphones were not only kept on but encouraged, though the specially designed darkened screens created by the app are theoretically not distracting to nearby patrons, and repeated messages appear on phone screens reminding everybody to turn down the ringtones. The app offered … program notes by Benjamin K. Roe about the process of the symphony’s composition, and a graph [showing] the symphony’s structural points and at what point the performance was in any moment. Trial runs at past concerts had about 18 percent accessing the information, according to orchestra spokespeople.… Music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin … was the format’s best advocate, with his friendly, conversational manner. Listeners reported that his performance was so absorbing that they stopped using the app.”

Posted January 15, 2015