For the next LSO Discovery Family Concert, Game Over, we'll be doing something a little different … devised by our very own Principal Flute, Gareth Davies, we'll be asking you to keep your electronic devices switched ON. But we'll let him explain more:
It's Saturday evening. We're watching something on TV. Family entertainment, you know the kind of thing. I look across at the kids; they're tapping away on phones.
'Put the phone down. You can't do two things at once.'
'No, seriously. How can you watch the programme and use your phone at the same time? You'll miss something and then ask me annoying questions because you aren't paying attention.'
I sound like an updated version of my father.
The tapping pauses momentarily and then resumes with a provocative swipe.
There follows a long explanation of something or other on TV. I look over and their heads are half watching one screen, half another. Time to hammer home my point:
'I'm sorry guys, but you can't possibly have heard what he said on the TV because you're so busy on your phones!'
My three kids look disdainfully across the room and recite, word for word what he said. They are 'interacting' I'm told.
I feel old.
Does this sound familiar? In the past, the marker for ageing was that policemen began to look younger, but now the ability to use and interact with multiple screens simultaneously seem to divide the generations.
So, what's all of this got to do with the London Symphony Orchestra? It gave me an idea. If you come to a regular LSO concert, you can pick up a free programme and then sit back and watch – but don't forget to switch off your phone before the music starts. Our kids, when they grow up, might find this a strange concept. They're constantly engaging with the outside world whilst using online information. Why not in the concert hall? Programme notes, subtitles, real time information on the performance, enhanced reality, all in the palm of your hand – who knows where it will end?
Composer Colin Skinner and I wanted to write a piece which not only showed off the orchestra but also allowed the audience to interact with the performance through the use of technology. When you come to watch Game Over, you won't have to switch your phone off, in fact you'll be encouraged to switch it on (although it will need to be on silent as high quality audio will be provided by the London Symphony Orchestra). During the concert you can log on to the LSO Twitter feed, Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat (username: londonsymphony), we'll give you extra information on the music being played and the composers, and you can let us know what you think and even send us a picture of yourself in the hall or enjoying the pre-concert events. Use the hashtag #lsogameover and who knows, you may find your comments and pictures being beamed onto the screen above the orchestra in real time!
But beware, things in Game Over are never entirely what they seem. The digital world and reality will come together for the first time during the concert. We don't know exactly what's going to happen ... Watch and listen to the mighty LSO. Interact using your phone or tablet. But be careful that you don't lose yourself in the digital world. You wouldn't want to get hacked would you? Or it would be...
©Copyright Gareth Davies 2016
Game Over, the LSO Discovery Family Concert, takes place on 12 June at the Barbican Hall, and is suitable for ages 7 to 13. The concert begins at 2.30pm but come along in the morning to one of our workshops, where your family can get creative with music and technology. Full details are available in our What's On section.