Saturday, the Philadelphia Orchestra will have its largest audience ever.
The orchestra’s performance with one of the brightest stars of the classical world, pianist Lang Lang, will be digitally simulcast into almost 700 movie theaters around the world.
Lang Lang will join the orchestra at the Kimmel Center to perform music by Franz Liszt on that composer’s 200th birthday, as well as a symphony by Shostakovich.
The tens of thousands of people in movie theaters around the world watching the digital simulcast will see only the Liszt performance. During the Shostakovich portion of the program, they will instead watch prerecorded performances of more Liszt music by Lang Lang.
“We had put the live concert program together before this broadcast came into being,” said orchestra vice president Steve Millen. “People in Philadelphia have been expecting to hear Shostakovich’s 10th Symphony for well over a year now, and we don’t want to take that away from them. But people in movie theaters have been told they will get Franz Liszt, all the time, and that’s what we will be able to provide for them.”
The Philadelphia Orchestra has broadcast its concerts for years over the Internet, and last year began beaming concerts into small art house theaters. This is the first time it will be done with a broad, global reach.
The simulcasts are produced by NCM Fathom, the company that handles the Metropolitan Opera’s popular high-definition simulcasts.
“When the Metropolitan Opera started doing its broadcast to theaters, it took three or four years to realize net profits,” said Millen. “We aren’t doing this as a way to generate direct revenue from the broadcast. More importantly, we are doing it to raise awareness of the orchestra, and reaffirm to everyone that the Philadelphia Orchestra is still one of the world’s greatest orchestras.”
The Saturday concert is a matinee, beginning at 2 p.m. The live simulcasts will be seen across the country later in the day, according to time zones. On the West Coast, the broadcast will be tape-delayed until 8:30 p.m.