A new partnership between GBH and classical music streaming service IDAGIO is delivering video concerts recorded in the GBH Fraser Performance Studio to a global audience. The series Performance Reimagined kicked off in April with a performance by famed violinist Gil Shaham and members of the New York-based orchestra The Knights, and will continue for the next several months. We spoke with General Manager of GBH Music Anthony Rudel and CRB Classical 99.5’s host and Director of Production Brian McCreath about this new way to experience music — developed during a pandemic but expected to last well beyond.
How did this partnership begin?
Anthony Rudel: Till Janczukowicz, founder and CEO of IDAGIO, which is based in Berlin, saw Yo-Yo Ma’s live virtual performance that we produced in Fraser Performance Studio on Memorial Day weekend last year. He was so impressed that he called me the next day and said, “we need to work together.”
What is this digital experience like for the performers and audiences?
AR: Not only are we creating art and content that has value to us, we're helping artists connect with their audiences during a time when that has been nearly impossible. This partnership brings artists and audiences closer than they’ve ever been, despite the fact that there's a screen between them. We can provide a view and an intimacy that even a small concert hall can’t offer. In a recent jazz show, we hung a camera directly over the piano so viewers could watch not only the pianist’s hands, but they could look directly into the piano. You can't find that seat in any concert hall.
What role does the host play?
Brian McCreath: I’ve always been fascinated by what musicians experience in the moment and how an audience perceives that performance. As host, and in conversations with the performers, I'm trying to draw that bridge between them so that the audience really gets a sense not just of what the performers are playing, but what's going on in their minds as they are playing.
What does this tell us about the future of performance?
AR: The way a symphony orchestra concert or chamber music recital is given today — except for the presence of electric lights — is no different than a concert in Brahms’s time. Every other form of entertainment has evolved. Now we are seeing classical music performance evolve. It’s fascinating and thrilling to be part of it. With digital performances, we’ve broken down the confines of the concert hall. I also see a time in the not-too-distant future when we will see the breakdown of barriers that exist among music genres.
Will this open up music to a broader audience?
BM: The classical music audience is a wide demographic, and it includes those who can’t easily go to concert halls. This is a way that they can stay connected to the art form, and that's really important. This format will grow with that population, those who are homebound and those living distantly from music centers.
AR: It's also very promising for young listeners who aren’t inclined, at the end of the workday, to spend three hours in a concert hall. Because each performance will be available on IDAGIO for an extended period after the concert and then the audio will air later as part of the Sunday evening “WCRB In Concert” broadcast on CRB Classical 99.5, listeners can watch or listen when it’s convenient for them.
How does the flexible ticketing system work?
AR: Tickets for the concerts cost between $9 and $79 and can be purchased from the IDAGIO Global Concert Hall. This flexible ticketing model allows patrons to give additional support to the artists by choosing the price point that they're comfortable with.