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Tweet Seats 3: Mariinsky Orchestra of St. Petersburg

Editor’s note: This season, UMS is launching a new pilot project: tweet seats. Read the complete project description and pre-interviews with participants

For the third tweet seats event, we saw the Mariinsky Orchestra of St. Petersburg:

This week’s participants:

  • Paul Kitti, writer for iSPY magazine
  • Mariah Cherem, Production Librarian at Ann Arbor District Library
  • Mark Clague, U-M Associate Professor of Musicology and UMS Board member
  • University of Michigan social media intern Taylor Davis

Read the whole tweet seats conversation.

UMS: How did tweeting affect your experience of the performance? Did you expect this effect or are you surprised by this outcome?

Mariah Cherem: At first, I did feel awkward tweeting. I felt that it took me out of the moment a bit, and removed me one more step as observing my experience in a different way. As the performance went on, there were times when I felt completely comfortable tweeting, and other times when I frankly just wanted to let go of that way of thinking because I didn’t have much (more) to say.

UMS: If you’ve participated in prior tweet seats, how did tweeting at this performance compare to tweeting at Aspen Santa Fe Ballet or at Rhinocéros?

Paul Kitti: Tweeting the orchestral performance had less of an effect on my experience than it did during the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet and Rhinocéros. It was less interruptive and I felt it didn’t take away from the experience, because I didn’t need to have my attention on the stage the whole time. It felt natural because I’m used to being on social media while listening to music.

Mark Clague: As I could hear the orchestra even while looking at my cell phone’s screen, I found tweeting the concert less disturbing than tweeting for the dance and theatre events I had experimented with previously. The sold-out audience for Mariinsky also provided an exciting atmosphere. There was more Twitter dialogue at the intermission and afterwards from friends and current students–maybe a result of the larger seating capacity of Hill Auditorium and this added to the fun for me. There was also a bit of debate about the concert and which piece was played most expertly. Several people I know who didn’t tweet were clearly following the feed and commented to me about it face-to-face encounters the next day. I did receive one disapproving Tweet response from a follower who objected to my picture of the orchestra (assembling and not taken during the performance) as a violation of decorum. The august traditions of great music in our concert halls may prove discouraging to new media. In some ways, tweeting orchestra concerts seems like the perfect entry point for social-media enabled conversations to start (since one does not have to “see” the stage constantly to experience the art fully), but on the other hand the formal nature of our classical concert rituals might make it difficult to sanction change. I wonder if Hill wouldn’t be the perfect location for an intermission tweet exchange in which all patrons were encouraged to discuss a performance during the interval and/or immediately after a performance. Because of the large seating capacity, there are likely dozens with active Twitter accounts who might want to sign on. The screens showing the stage in the lobby could instead post the twitter feed to share the discussion more broadly.

UMS: How did you feel about tweeting in Hill Auditorium?

Paul Kitti: Because I was tweeting in Hill Auditorium, I was seated in the very back row of the balcony. The place is beautiful and I got to take it all in from this perspective. I felt a considerable distance from the performance, however, and – added to the fact that I was tweeting and relaying information to the outside world – it kind of put me in suspension rather than feeling connected to the music.

Mariah Cherem: Hill is a gorgeous venue – from both a visual and auditory standpoint. It was great to be able to hear so well even in the very back corner row. I wish that I had been able to take my phone out of the box to capture more of the visuals. I should have captured some visual detail/close-ups for twitter/instagram during intermission, but frankly I was too focused on getting in a quick break!

Stay tuned for the next tweet seats event: Gilberto Gil on Saturday, November 16.

How do you feel about using technology during live arts experiences?

Getting ready to tweet at Mariinsky Orchestra performance

Our distinguished panel of tweet seats participants getting ready to tweet at the Mariinsky Orchestra performance last weekend. Learn about our tweet seats project.