The pandemic and its edict to shelter-from-home turned many on to streaming services and binge-able shows. But while it was easy to be inundated by the bevy of options on many different platforms and the onslaught of entertainment viewed on devices, nothing could replicate a live performance.
Now, the San Francisco Opera is collaborating with Aloha by Elk, a new real-time remote music service to stream performances with no lag time. SFO artists-in-residence, The Adlers, use Aloha to rehearse as they prep for the April 29 kickoff of a drive-in series.
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“From the moment the pandemic began we desperately wanted to keep people singing together,” said Matthew Shilvock, general director of the San Francisco Opera. “It is the life-force of our art form, but we quickly realized with heavy hearts that it was impossible to connect musicians in live music making using traditional video conferencing. That is why Aloha came as such a needed solution. It suddenly opened up the possibility of music making in a way absent for our artists sheltering in place.”
The San Francisco Opera was one of the first arts organizations to use Aloha to move its music program safely forward during the pandemic.
“Aloha’s ultra-low latency service connects artists remotely, effectively eliminating the lag time that interrupts the creative flow,” the announcement said. “This allows artists to collaborate and play together live, as if they’re in the same room. For the San Francisco Opera’s classically trained artists whose in-person music collaboration has been put on pause during the pandemic, this means that important musical cues such as hearing breaths, shifts in tempo and expressive variation are now in sync during remote rehearsals.”
Aloha’s pocket-sized device and app, currently in beta, bring the fast performance of Elk Audio OS to keep remote users in sync with a quality audio experience. Its features are set within a video chat dashboard, which includes “individual monitoring controls, effects and recording capabilities with options for streaming performances and collaborations over popular social channels,” the announcement continued. The service runs on smartphones, tablets and computers over high-speed internet and 5G networks.
For live music, the typical lag time with traditional video conferencing applications can be 15 times more than the minimum needed for artists to make music collaboratively. Now the Internet of Things is improving this for the San Francisco Opera.
“Digital transformations in this IoT world have connected almost every market imaginable, yet music has remained siloed. This pain point was magnified when the pandemic put an end to live music as we know it,” said Michele Benincaso, founder and director, Elk Audio. “With 5G on the horizon and current networks becoming stronger and faster, we are at a tipping point that has set the stage for Aloha’s real-time service connecting artists and instruments in a way never before possible. More than catching up, Aloha is enabling musicians and artists to leapfrog into the connected world and collaborate with anyone, anywhere.”
The San Francisco Opera’s 11 resident artists will hold three live concerts in an open-air drive-in setting at San Rafael’s Marin Center on April 29, May 6 and May 13. The Adler Fellows will play a 70-minute program of operatic favorites by composers such as Mozart, Rossini, Puccini, Verdi and Lehár.
“Music is a driving force that connects people on a deeper level, yet it is one of the only things in the world of IoT that remain disconnected when it comes to its creation,” Benincaso said. “For artists, that disconnect has severely impacted their ability to effectively collaborate, rehearse and perform during the pandemic.”
“Aloha is bringing music across the IoT finish line,” Benincaso concluded. “It connects artists in a way never done before, reshaping how music can be created today and into the future. As the 5G network matures, Aloha will open doors for artists to engage with fans and the music business to monetize content in entirely new ways. This is just the beginning, and the future is much brighter for music now that it is part of the connected world.”
“It allowed us to make music together once again,” Shilvock said. “For us, Aloha was transformational in bringing spontaneity back to making music.”