Liveness, Liveliness, aLiveness: an empirical study on audience experience in Film-with-Live-Orchestra concerts

Sekar, S. P. (2024) Liveness, Liveliness, aLiveness: an empirical study on audience experience in Film-with-Live-Orchestra concerts. Doctoral thesis, Royal College of Music.


We are now living in the screen age. There is a screen on every palm. There is a screen in every room. The incursion of screens in symphonic spaces seems only an inevitable eventuality. Since 2016, over 3 million people from 48 countries have watched symphony orchestras perform the score live to the projection of the Harry Potter films, in over 1300 Film-with-Live-Orchestra concerts. Due to accelerating audiovisual culture, ageing audiences, and declining state funding for classical music, arts organisations programme such events to introduce the sight and the sound of a symphony orchestra to newer, younger, and a more diverse audience. There does not exist any empirical study on the experience of the audience attending such concerts. Do the audience pay attention to the orchestra? How do people of screen age perceive such events? What, first, is a Film-with-Live-Orchestra (FLO) concert and how is it different from other screen-based concerts? What constitutes the experience of an audience member attending an FLO concert? In this exploratory study, I find answers to these questions. I followed a netnographic approach to collect data for the study. The dataset consists of over 2000 Twitter messages and over 250 online magazine reviews in which audiences have shared their FLO concert experiences. I conducted an inductive thematic analysis of the qualitative data and found that the experience of an audience member in an FLO concert constitutes Inclusion, Interaction, Immersion, Interruption, Intense affect, feeling, and emotion, Illumination, and Invigoration. From these ‘7 Is’ emerge the theory of lifeness in audience experience: Liveness, Liveliness, and aLiveness; a theory that could be used to understand what makes an encounter with any work of art unforgettable, and to understand the resonance, or lack thereof, between a perceiver and a perceived work of art.

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