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Web Events (more headlines) 12-28-2013

Chicago Symphony Orchestra Launches CSO Sounds & Stories, An Online Multimedia Magazine

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The Chicago Symphony Orchestra has launched CSO Sounds & Stories (http://www.cso.org/soundsandstories), an online multimedia magazine designed to enhance the concert-going experience and to bring the CSO closer to music lovers worldwide. Integrating audio and video recordings with original, high-quality content created by professional writers, the site previews coming programs, features articles and audio/video clips about Music Director Riccardo Muti, CSO musicians and visiting artists and includes program notes about the season's concerts, festivals and themes.

"CSO Sounds & Stories, an extremely ambitious and rewarding project, allows us to communicate directly with people around the world, providing them with a convenient way to learn more about classical music, musicians, composers and conductors while also enjoying the inspired music making of our world-renowned music director and orchestra and the guest artists we host each year," said Deborah F. Rutter, president of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association. "CSO Sounds & Stories brings together all of our varied media content to create an integrated digital presence."

"To the best of our knowledge, with CSO Sounds & Stories, the CSO becomes the first major American orchestra to have a dedicated music journalism site," said Philip Koester, vice president, sales and marketing, for the CSO. "We are responding to changes in media consumption behavior and shifts in the media landscape, which have especially affected arts and music journalism. Since publications now have fewer resources to devote to the arts, it is more difficult for the CSO to obtain media coverage, especially previews of coming programs. Therefore, we are using brand journalism and content marketing to tell our stories."An extension of the CSO's main site, cso.org, CSO Sounds & Stories replaces the Listen & Watch section of cso.org. The site functions effectively on mobile phones, tablets and computers. It will be full of timely, wide-ranging articles combined with contemporary, integrated delivery of streaming audio and video. Content will be promoted on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and other social media applications. Moreover, current social media sites, such as the blog of the CSO archivist, are now integrated with CSO Sounds & Stories.

CSO Sounds & Stories also makes better use of the institution's investment in its digital products, including excerpts of its record releases as well as links to CSO Radio programs, through which CSO performances are professionally engineered, recorded and then transmitted to audiences worldwide. The site also offers video content, ranging from interviews with and statements from artists, to the live streaming of concerts, to recordings of Beyond the Score. Beyond the Score is an innovative multimedia series that weaves together theater, imagery and music to draw new audiences to classical music.

"Whether or not the users of the site attend concerts at Symphony Center, CSO Sounds & Stories will deepen their knowledge of the music - from CSO concerts to our Jazz Series to MusicNOW - as well as the stories behind the music. The site will also offer ideas for becoming more engaged with the CSO and the many ways we serve people in greater Chicago and around the globe," Rutter said. For instance, the site also will feature the CSO's innovative family, community and education programs, including its Citizen Musician Initiative, and ideas for how people worldwide might participate.

As evidence of its commitment to high-quality journalism, earlier this year the CSO hired arts editor Laura Emerick to serve as the editor of the site. At the Chicago Sun-Times, Emerick served as film critic Roger Ebert's editor for 20 years, was the paper's classical music editor and also wrote about arts and culture. The editorial board of CSO Sounds & Stories consists of Emerick, Koester, Celeste Wroblewski, vice president for public relations, and Cameron Arens, director for audience development and a member of the CSO's artistic department.

"By establishing CSO Sounds and Stories, the organization also is able to get away from proprietary platforms for the delivery of media and to instead use licensed technology," said Kevin Giglinto, vice president for strategy and special Initiatives at the CSO. "That means using SoundCloud, an online audio platform, to deliver the best digital audio and Brightcove, an online video platform, to deliver the best digital video experiences. Through that licensing, the CSO gets out of the business of building custom media platforms."

Giglinto indicated that Sounds & Stories uses responsive design, meaning that it will deliver an optimal experience for each user, detecting the system, platform and connection - whether mobile or PC - and adjusting to the screen resolution of the device being used. "This reduces the need to create a custom application that can be very costly to maintain and update with changing mobile technologies," said Giglinto.

CSO Sounds & Stories is supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Art Works. Generous support for Sounds & Stories also is provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Walter and Karla Goldschmidt Foundation.

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