Everyone’s a Star

ProMusica Chamber Orchestra’s upcoming Messiah Sing-a-Long got me to thinking…why is it so difficult to get people to sing in public…except when they really shouldn’t.  At sporting events, I am usually one of the dozen or so that actually sing the National Anthem…or even know it’s being played.  Heck, even in Ohio Stadium with 100,000+ of your closest friends, you’d think the only words in Carmen Ohio were O-HI-OOOOOO.

According to one writer, however, just shell out big bucks to hear your favorite singer – and you are inevitably seated near someone who knows every word, or at least THINKS they do.

Granted, this happens mostly at pop concerts, but not exclusively.  I have heard the occasional harmony being tossed in at key moments in concert halls.  I must confess to tossing in a bit of hummed harmony on occasion.  Fortunately, classical concerts mostly bring out the conductor in us, rather than the singer.  If you look down a row, you’ll often see many cues being given by concert goers wielding invisible sticks.

Then there is the bobber.  That’s the person, usually in front of you, who gives cues with their head, which means you rarely see the entire orchestra at the same time.  Now you see the violins, now you don’t.

There are video games for the frustrated musician in us, such as Guitar Hero and Drum Hero, but what about frustrated Stick Heroes?  Well, now’s your chance.  Jennifer Hambrick recently wrote about a NYC orchestra which set up on the street with a podium, music, and baton, but no conductor.  The sign on the music stand read “Conduct Us.”  Many did with hilarious results.

Since having a live orchestra available for random stick-wavers can get expensive, I offer this alternative – Conductor Hero…or more accurately, Virtual Maestro.  (Note to creators…you need a catchier name.)

UBS, which often sponsors classical music events and organizations, created the interactive program to help generate more interest in classical music.  Teresa Nakra, an assistant professor of music at The College of New Jersey in Ewing, led a team of programmers in the creation of software “that speeds or slows the replay of the orchestra according to the movement of a remote from Nintendo Co.’s Wii game console.”  That same console offers games which test your musical ear, play congas, piano, even marimba.

UBS is touring their set up to various concert halls and hope to take to Europe.  Here’s hoping it makes it to Columbus OH…

Read If Elton John Sings, but Everyone Else Does, too, Does it Make a Sound? (New Music Box)

Read Conductor Hero?  Touring Game Rocks Concert Halls (ABC.com)

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