"The electronic program notes
made for a memorable event. Five days later, I was still thinking
— Julie Crain, a Concert Companion user,
(as quoted in The New York
About the Concert Companion
The Concert Companion (CoCo) is an exciting new
interpretive aid or “experience enhancement” for classical
music audiences. Using state of the art wireless technology, CoCo delivers
explanatory text, program notes and video images to hand-held devices – in
real time with the music.
CoCo provides a value-added experience akin to museum audio tours
- except CoCo is a visual enhancement of an aural experience, instead
of the other way around - making the music accessible to a greater
number of listeners.
The Concert Companion, developed under the auspices of the Kansas
City Symphony, has generated considerable interest and attention. It comes
at a time when the orchestra field is experimenting with new formats
and concert enhancements to attract new audiences. Project funders
include the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight
Foundation, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, The William and
Flora Hewlett Foundation as well as DST Systems and The Hall Family
Foundation in Kansas City.
Feature articles on the Concert Companion have appeared in The New
York Times, San Jose Mercury News, Denver Post, Kansas City Star, Symphony
magazine and many other national and international publications. A
feature segment devoted to the project aired on National Public Radio's "All
The Concert Companion was tested three times in 2010: with the Kansas
City Symphony, Aspen Music Festival, and Saratoga Performing Arts Center
with the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Focus groups, facilitated by Audience
Insight LLC, were convened in all three locations.
Key Themes and Observations from the Prototype Test Reports
• The Concert Companion strongly appeals to people who have little experience
with classical music.
The Concert Companion should be seen primarily as a means of broadening the audience
for orchestra concerts, and secondarily as a means of deepening the experience
for conventional concertgoers.
Experienced concertgoers would likely use the Concert Companion as an interpretive
aid for new and challenging compositions.
Results suggest that orchestras can best use the Concert Companion as an audience
development and educational tool.
The most common reaction from users who liked the device is that they want to
hear the piece again; they feel more connected to the music. The Concert Companion
helps people understand and appreciate classical music and become better listeners.