Orchestra to allow iPad use during concerts

The venerable Boston Symphony Orchestra has acknowledged that young people can’t sit through a concert without being connected to their iPads.

The BSO is setting up a “technology area” at its Casual Friday concerts to test whether the presence of iPads might enhance the “concert experience,” WBUR reports today.

“So the question mark is: Is it useful having the iPads in the hall or is it not useful? Do people really like it? Would they rather have the information in advance?” spokesperson Kim Noltemy asked. “We just don’t know, so we really have to try it.”

Noltemy said the orchestra made the move after research showed younger people think there should be room for technology in live performances.

We’re guessing that people will be focused on that (meaning what’s happening on stage) more than the iPads during the concert,” she told WBUR, “but they will have the iPads for the whole concert — and they will have earbuds — so if they choose to be looking at some of that content during the concert they’re certainly able to do that.”

People using the iPads will be limited to seeing content related to the performance, including original music scores, podcasts and behind-the-scenes videos and interviews with featured soloists, all while ignoring the live performance that is taking place in front of them.

Some musicians are not happy, WBUR reports.

“Some are worried other audience members will be annoyed with the glow of screens — or just seeing the use of technology as something that is so new to us during a concert,” Noltemy said.

The first concert with the iPad availability is this evening.