Orchestra swaps music for tablet computers

12 November 2012, 16:34 | Updated: 12 November 2012, 16:45

Performers in the Brussels Philharmonic Orchestra are bringing classical music firmly into the digital age – by replacing traditional orchestral scores with the latest tablet computers.

The Brussels Philharmonic Orchestra are swapping paper music for tablet computers as part of an innovative new scheme. The 92 musicians premiered the technology in a concert last week, playing Ravel and Wagner at Flagey in Belgium.

Buying full orchestral scores or borrowing scores from music libraries can be expensive; it’s thought that these new tablets will save the orchestra up to €25,000 (around £20,000) in paper costs.

Director Gunther Broucke said he was struck by how quickly the musicians had adapted to the technology, despite a few of them having reservations during rehearsals.

“Classical music must adapt to the times," he said. "For centuries the operation of an orchestra has not evolved much: the musicians use printed manuscripts, which makes preparing for concerts long and complex.”

Before the tablet scores were introduced, any expressive markings or bowing suggestions from the conductor had to be copied out by every player. The new scheme enables the conductor to amend players’ parts remotely, without the need for each performer to copy out the markings by hand.

Musicians swipe the page in order to move to the next section of music, and the tablet uses a special ‘concert mode’ so players cannot accidentally skip ahead too far.