For All Of You Who Thought Conductor Hero Was A Gag…

Where there’s a will, there’s a way and the folks at Leipzig’s Mendelssohn Museum decided to bring simulated conducting to the next level with an interactive exhibit that allows visitors to genuinely conduct a virtual orchestra.

ADAPTISTRATION-GUY-100Designed for the museum by interactive design studio, WhiteVOID, the system was featured in the 5/2/14 edition of wired.com in an article by Liz Stinson. The system relies on a Leap Motion controller to accomplish the real-time adjustments from a user’s motions and having a fair amount of experience with that particular motion detection device, the experience can be anywhere from superb to meh.

If nothing else, the promotional video projects a fun and seemingly seamless experience so the next step here should be a North American tour of the system at concert halls and museums.

Splitting each instrument group into different speakers is a good start but it would be fascinating when someone eventually takes the idea to the next step and allow sections to be divided based on user input. Love hearing the violins split into antiphonal seating? No problem. Prefer stacking the cellos and basses into a single vertical stack that stretches the entire depth of the stage? No problem.

And what will be even more interesting is when the system can apply mutually exclusive sensors per instrument section to detect a finer degree of instruction via motion and eye contact based cues to influence elements such as dynamic control. What’s that maestro; you’ve got a fever…and the only prescription is more cowbell? No problem.

On a personal note to the UX team, thank you for leaving out the baton-stand tap motion as a way to begin the program or reset playback.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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