THE SCOOP | Toronto Orchestra Becomes First To Go Paperless

By Michael Vincent on November 15, 2021

The Brussels Philharmonic replaced paper scores with Galaxy tablets donated by manufacturer Samsung in 2015 (Photo courtesy of the Brussels Philharmonic)
The Brussels Philharmonic replaced paper scores with Galaxy tablets donated by manufacturer Samsung in 2015 (Photo courtesy of the Brussels Philharmonic)

You may have been to a concert recently and noticed a strange glow emanating from the music stand of a performer playing from a score on the fly during a concert. Reading music from tablet computers has become a popular way for chamber musicians to navigate scores, especially for pianists looking to avoid a page-turner.

The trend has been catching on for years in Europe, even with orchestras. The Orchestre National d’Ile-de-France equipped all of its 120 musicians with iPads with the hopes of abolishing printed notes to the dust bin of history back in 2018. The Brussels Philharmonic replaced sheet music with tablets in 2015.

CAN CLASSICAL MUSIC ESCAPE SHEET MUSIC?

In Canada, chamber musicians have embraced the trend, but not orchestras.

That is, until now.

The Toronto-based Kindred Spirits Orchestra has announced they have migrated to a fully digital library platform that will permanently replace their previous paper-based music library. This archive includes parts with iPad Pro tablets made available to all musicians.

“The Kindred Spirits Orchestra is the first symphony orchestra in Canada to significantly reduce its carbon footprint by replacing paper-based instrumental parts with a state-of-the-art digital library”, said Kristian Alexander, Music Director of the KSO. “The KSO is proud to join a growing international community of performing arts organizations that have transitioned their operations to an environmentally conscious business models.”

The new system will save on average 20,000 sheets of printed paper annually and will make rehearsing and performing in post-pandemic times more convenient, healthier and safer by eliminating high touch-point exchange of paper sheets, pencils, and erasers and by allowing hands-free page turns.

The big picture

“The symphony orchestra is a 400-old institution that has little evolved to address some of the significant changes in the ways live music is delivered and consumed today”, said Jobert Sevilleno, President and CEO of the KSO. “The COVID-19 pandemic has caught off guard orchestras worldwide and force them to shut down their operations as they are scrambling to quickly find a way to survive. Through the process, we were able to adapt and by using digital technologies we found new and better ways for serving our communities.”

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Michael Vincent
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