Attraction or Annoyance? Orchestras Invite Audiences to Use Their Smartphones

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The San Francisco Symphony is to become the latest orchestra to set aside "tweet seats" in its concert hall. Patrons seated in the balcony for its summer concerts will be invited to turn on their phones and dish out 140-character missives about the performance as they hear it. The orchestra joins the Cincinnati Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, the Pacific Symphony and the Dayton Opera, among other arts organizations, to introduce Twitter sections in the hall.

Live-tweeting is one of many strategies orchestras are trying in an attempt to enliven the concert experience -- from holding contests via YouTube, to placing video screens in halls. Advocates say these efforts could help make concerts feel more welcoming and interactive; skeptics wonder if social media and other technology will become a distraction.

Host Naomi Lewin discusses this trend with three guests: Brent Assink, executive director of the San Francisco Symphony; John Schaefer, host of WNYC's Soundcheck and New Sounds; Christopher Pinelo, vice president of communications for the Cincinnati Symphony, who oversees the organization's social media activities.

Weigh in: Do Tweet Seats belong in performance venues? What are other ways that orchestras can make the concert experience less stuffy? Leave your thoughts below.