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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?

Our Top 5 Riotous Performances

Six Character in Search of an Author production
Photo: Scene from Six Characters in Search of an Author production by Théâtre de la Ville. Photo by JL Fernandez.

On Saturday, Théâtre de la Ville return to Ann Arbor to perform Luigi Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of An Author. Luigi Pirandello won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1934 for his “bold and brilliant renovation of drama and the stage,” and Six Characters, which dates from 1921, is one of his seminal plays, widely considered to be a precursor to the theater of the absurd movement to follow. However, the play caused a riot when it was first produced in Rome in 1921, and was even banned in Britain until 1928.

We were inspired to put together a list of our favorite performance riots. Add your own to the comments below.

1. Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring – May 1913, Paris

“The ballet was choreographed by the great Nijinsky,” Hoffman says, “and the noise, fighting, and shouting in the audience got so loud, he had to shout out the numbers to the dancers so that they knew what they were supposed to do.” (via)

2. Steve Reich’s Four Organs – 1973, Carnegie Hall, NYC

“One woman walked down the aisle and repeatedly banged her head on the front of the stage, wailing ‘Stop, stop, I confess.’” (via)

3. Ornette Coleman, debut of quartet —1959, Five Spot, NYC

“Coleman’s playing created instantaneous controversy. Miles Davis, Red Garland and Coleman Hawkins were initially openly hostile to Coleman. Dizzy Gillespie said, “I don’t know what he’s playing, but it’s not jazz.”  Davis’s comments, “the man is all screwed up inside,” were the ones picked up by the press, but drummer Max Roach took his outrage far enough to follow Coleman backstage one night and punch him in the mouth.” (via via via)

4. Elvis Presley— 1956, The Ed Sullivan Show, NYC

“In the second show, June 5, 1956, Elvis’s playful performance of ‘Hound Dog’ drove the teens wild, but the press and some adults were outraged. The controversy over his bumps and grinds and gyrating hips only served to fuel the fire. When Ed Sullivan was asked if he would book Elvis on his show, he said he would not. He didn’t want to be the recipient of scathing criticism from the nation’s media.” (via)

5. George Bizet’s Carmen premiere — 1875, Paris

“With a libretto based on a story that many considered too salacious for public performance, Carmen was roundly denounced as immoral by critics even before its score had been completed.” (via)

What are some of your favorite performances like this? Why do you think some performances inspire this kind of reaction and conversation while others don’t?