Saturday, February 25, 2012

How Tweet is is

So, earlier this season, we in the quartet were trying to think of interesting ways to present ourselves at our new concert series, called "ClassicAlive!" at Wilmington, Delaware's newly refurbished Queen Theater (run by World Café Live). Kate had put together a wonderful script for our first concert in December (the title of which was "Quartet Time Machine"), but we were trying to think of yet other ways to connect with our audience in this less formal, more intimate setting than an average concert.

Earlier that year, during the Super Bowl halftime show, I had a wonderful time following many people on Twitter who were making fun of the band The Black-Eyed Peas (good band, bad halftime show - still trying to wrap my head around what the heck the box-headed dancers were all about).  For some reason, the fun of this popped into my head when we were discussing the Queen Theater concerts, as did a senior recital of one of my students at the University of Delaware, who had her audience tweet about her program.  So, I said, "Hey, I could 'live-tweet' the concert while you guys are reading the script!" To my great surprise, my colleagues thought this was a really good idea. To my greater surprise, they seemed to understand what I was talking about.

So, I was off on the concept. As a trial run for the first concert, I decided to cheat a little bit.  I mostly pre-wrote my tweets to correspond to where we were in the program, adding extra tidbits like:
While Debussy loved Ravel’s 4tet, Gabriel FaurĂ©, for whom it was written, hated it, called it a failure. Can’t please everybody! #SSQatWCL
In addition to being a truly wonderful composer, Jennifer #Higdon is also a truly lovely person. Double win for us! #SSQatWCL
And, some commentary about my fellow Serafins:
I promise not to tweet while Kate and Molly are playing their glorious #Mozart Duo! If you see me doing it, throw some food at me. #SSQatWCL
No, Kate didn't suddenly get taller. That's Tim sitting in the 1st violin seat. They share that duty - some 4tets do, most don't. #SSQatWCL
If you're unfamiliar with the weird, wacky world of Twitter, it is a site where individuals do what is called "micro-blogging", with individual "tweets" containing no more than 140 characters. The "#" sign, called a hashtag in the Twitterverse, can draw attention to a word, or comment on a tweet (in the above tweets, the hashtag simply labeled the concert).

As this concert went on, I started to feel just a bit more confident to tweet more spontaneously, and added brilliant gems like:
Yep, Kate's socks are pretty cool, indeed. #SSQatWCL
Pure poetry, huh?

The Twitter experiment was fun for me, and was sort of an exhilarating challenge, making sure I could do this stuff on my iPhone and still get myself ready to focus and play. So, I was ready to try it again for our second concert in February, a Valentine-themed concert we were calling "Romp through Romanticism". Little did I know that the idea would draw the attention of journalist Peter Bothum of the Delaware News Journal, who featured SSQ in a huge article profiling the concert and (more so) the tweeting.  Now, with pictures of the quartet, and me with my phone onstage, were all over the paper, the stakes were raised. I needed to tweet like I'd never tweeted before.  Okay, not really, but I did feel that I should be at least as active as I was the previous time out.

Some tweets from the Romanticism concert, again clearly inspired genius in 140 characters or less:
Holy cow, that Mendelssohn movement *was* fast.  My fingers are almost too tired to tweet! #repetitivestress #justkiddingimfine #SSQatWCL
Fun fact: this Ravel quartet was debuted on Tim's birthday (March 5). But Tim's not 108 years old. #SSQatWCL
and, returning to the well:
Not related to Schumann, but Kate is wearing those fabulous socks again! #SSQatWCL
The Twitter response during this concert was amazing, with people at the concert tweeting along with me, and I even got into a couple of Twitter conversations. Luckily, I always was able to get the phone down in time to play!  All in all, I had a great time doing it.

So, if you want to come and see me tweet on Sunday, March 11 at 12:00 noon at the Queen Theater (with doors opening at 11:00 for brunch), we'd love to see you.  Even if you don't come, you can always see what we're doing during the concert by following us on Twitter: @serafin4tet (you're also welcome to follow yours truly: @larrystomberg). I'll do what I can to be entertaining and informative, and maybe just a bit silly (except after we play the Barber Adagio on that concert - I'll likely be too sad to tweet).

Cheers from the quartet's head "Twit",

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