On Wednesday 1 November we are running the first of our new early evening concert series, Half Six Fix. These concerts start at 6.30pm and last for one hour, without an interval.The programme will feature one or two major works, which the conductor will introduce from the stage. And to bring you closer to the action, we'll have screens to showcase the performers and programme notes available on our Android or iPhone device. You can also enjoy the music with a drink.
You might have spotted in the sentence above that we're actively encouraging people to have their phones ON and in their hands during the performance. This can be a contentious issue, to put it mildly! Some love the idea, some hate it. So we have put together these FAQs to address some of the issues we think might come up...
What is EnCue?
EnCue is a mobile app that enhances audience engagement during live performing arts events. The app delivers media to viewers in real time, creating a unique opportunity for viewers to receive helpful information at the exact moment it is needed during live events.
Why are you using EnCue at this concert?
Half Six Fix is our new concert format, and we wanted to try out some new ways to present the music and provide a different experience to the standard evening concerts. This includes:
- having only one piece of music and no interval
- allowing people to bring drinks into the hall
- showing the musicians in close-up on screens at the side of the stage
- having the concert introduced by the conductor
- providing real-time insight into the music and musicians via this app, delivered to a personal device
Who wrote the notes?
Edward Bhesania, one of our regular note-writers
How is EnCue different from a normal programme?
The notes are written to be relevant to what is happening in the music at a particular moment, and are delivered to the phone at that moment. So while a programme note can pick bits of the music out, this app will help the user get a much more immediate engagement. We hope it’ll provide something unique, that users can’t get anywhere else.
I don’t want to use the app, will there be anything for me?
We will be providing a free handout containing the programme and list of musicians. The music will also be introduced from the stage by the conductor, and the screens in the hall will mark the movements of the music.
Won’t the glowing screens be distracting to the audience and musicians?
The app has been tested extensively by its creators and they have developed Custom Dark Screen Technology ™ and Glance-Optimized Media™ that reduces the glare from the screen. As a result, both users and non-users comfortably use EnCue without distraction. We have tested the app with the hall lighting set as for a concert, and are satisfied that the light emitted from the screens is not obvious from either stage or to other audience members.
Will people be tempted to use their phones for other purposes during the concert?
This is always a possibility, and we can’t actually stop them apart from asking poltiely in advance. However, users have reported that using the app is an engaging experience and they are not tempted away to look at emails or social media. This quote is from a previous user of the app:
“I’m a bit of a purist about the concert experience and was skeptical about using EnCue. To my surprise, I found that EnCue’s design and real-time delivery of content encouraged more active listening throughout the performance and kept me focused on the music. It was the opposite of distracting.”
What if people take photos or record on their phones during the concert?
Whilst we are fully encouraging people to have their phones switched on for the EnCue programme notes, video recording, audio recording and photography are not allowed during the music as is usual for a concert.
Will people be able to receive phone calls?
The network coverage in the Barbican Hall is not particularly good as the Hall is below ground level. We have asked people to make sure their phones are set to silent so that any notifications or calls that can come through via the WiFi don't disturb the concert.
What happens at the end of the concert?
The notes will be available to read in the app for a while and there is functionality in the app for the user to email the notes to themselves to read later.
How can people feedback about their experience?
Step-by-step instructions for downloading and using the app can be found on our Half Six Fix page.
A note for iPhone users: if you are using the latest iOS11 on iPhone, there are some known bugs within the operating system for which Apple are still releasing updates. The app crashes if the screen is touched. We recommend allowing the notes to advance by themselves! If the app does crash it can be restarted and the notes should automatically start at the correct point in the music.
If you're unable to join us on Wednesday but would like to experience Half Six Fix and programme notes via EnCue, the next concert is on Thursday 21 December, featuring Bernstein's musical Wonderful Town conducted by Sir Simon Rattle.