ILA Brings New Dimensions to Live Classical Performance

Can artificial intelligence and immersive visual arts technologies enhance live classical performances and enable audiences to connect with artists in a new way? ILA’s PianoLab festival resoundingly answered yes to this question. Over a four-day period the nineteenth-century-technology of the concert grant piano met with twenty-first-century digital technology and audiences where delighted with the outcome. 

In a post event survey 70% of the audience indicated that the LED screen component made the experience joyful or it enhanced their experience. An impressive 92% of the audience would recommend PianoLab to others and 93% stated they would be interested in attending a future classical concert series at ILA. 

From November 17 – 20, ILA, Recitals Australia, the J.M. Coetzee Centre for Creative Practice and the Elder Conservatorium hosted Adelaide’s inaugural PianoLab festival curated by the Elder Conservatorium’s first female director, Anna Goldsworthy with contributions from ILA’s Artistic Director, Anne Wiberg. 

PianoLab, saw 15 recitals across four days described by an attendee as “a sensory delight” and covered a mash up of genres with classical, jazz and contemporary recitals featuring many of Australia’s most renowned pianists including Konstantin Shamray, Paavali Jumppanen, Paul Grabowsky, Lucinda Collins, Stephen McIntyre, Mark Ferguson, Dan Thorpe, Stephen Whittington and Anna Goldsworthy in addition to emerging artists, masterclasses and workshops. 

Hosted at ILA’s immersive entertainment venue, The Lab, a grand piano was staged amongst a backdrop of 50sqm (that’s 14 million pixels) of LED screens, bringing new dimensions to live performance through captivating imagery created for each performance by ILA’s visual artists Frazer Dempsey and Allen Macintosh. 

PianoLab formed part of ILA’s research into how visual arts and LED technology can enhance live performances for different audiences and reaffirmed their mission as stated by an attendee that experimenting with immersive visuals “brings a new life and story to music heard before.” 

One attendee commented, “The visual arts made my experience so stunning when I could connect the music with the image. It added more beautiful moments to the performance and the enjoyment I experienced.” 

Other attendees said that the visual arts and immersive LED technology “gives the music yet another dimension” and that this intersection of music and visual experiences helped them feel more engaged and allowed them to “tune in better to what was happening sonically.” 

This compelling concert series attracted visitors from interstate and across South Australia to experience pianistic royalty in an intimate and unique setting that is yet to be replicated elsewhere. 

One of the performances included a sold out recital by distinguished pianist, Konstantin Shamray. Usually found performing in concert halls across the globe, PianoLab enabled the audience to connect with him in a new light described by John Hewsen as “an exciting and beautiful performance… the intimacy of PianoLab and the subtle mesmerising visual arts surrounding him made this a very special concert confirmed by the enthusiastic audience response.” 

After PianoLab’s successful premiere season it is ILA’s aim to continue reimagining live performances with more exciting innovative programs on the horizon. 

PianoLab was supported by the Australian Government’s RISE Fund. 

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