BRSO will take to Twitter to keep audience in tune

Sometimes the details get lost in the music, so Timothy Muffitt has found a remedy.

You can find it on Twitter @BRSymphony or by using #brsoravel on Thursday, May 8.

Muffitt is using social media to get the word out about what’s going on in the music during the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra’s Investar Masterworks VII concert in the Baton Rouge River Center Theater for the Performing Arts. As the orchestra’s conductor and music director, he’ll be too busy to do the tweeting.

“But I’m writing what I’d like tweeted ahead of time, and our associate conductor, David Torns, will know when to signal Jessica Ottaviano when to send out the tweets.”

Ottaviano is the orchestra’s director of education, development coordinator and is in charge of program ad sales. Now she can add “concert tweeter” to her list of titles.

“It’s going to be a coordinated effort,” Muffitt says.

Muffitt developed the idea while studying Maurice Ravel’s ballet “Daphnis and ChloĆ«.” The orchestra will play the piece in the second of the concert, which will be preceded by “The Butterfly Lovers; Violin Concerto” a take on “Romeo and Juliet” by He Zhanhao and Chen Gang.

Guest violinist Yi-Jia Susanne Hou will be featured on the first piece. She also will visit local schools.

But it was Ravel that led Muffitt to Twitter.

“I was thinking about the remarkable level of emotional and expressive detail written in the music,” he says. “And I thought about how it was too bad that the audience might miss out on these details. If the piece was being performed as a ballet, the audience might connect with what’s happening on the stage, but as a concert piece, they might miss what’s happening.”

The two works on the program tell stories in great detail, and each story line will be told as it happens in the music, along with supporting details. Audience members will be encouraged to make their own contributions to the feed as it is happening, making it an interactive experience.

Audience members usually are asked to silence their mobile telephones before the concert begins. This request will still be in place, but the concert hall will be sectioned into “Twitter zones” for audience members who want to follow the Twitter feed.

“We know there will be those who want to participate, but we don’t want those who don’t want to participate to be disturbed,” Muffitt says. “So, we’ll have designated sections.”

Muffitt knows of other orchestras that have communicated through social media during concerts, but this will be a first for the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra.

“The music stands on its own,” he says. “It always does. But this is a way to enhance the experience, to make it more powerful. I don’t know if we’ll be doing this during every concert. I think this is the kind of thing that we’ll use on certain kinds of music, but not every kind of music would call for it.”