Next Stage Grants
Project Digitization: Sheet Music © Volksoper Wien/Barbara Palffy i
Music theatre production from its very beginning on has always adopted the most advanced technologies of its respective times – lighting, stage machinery, construction and design, colours and materials, instruments, audio and video. Innovation is written into its genes – but has until now never touched the production, distribution and use of music on paper. And this despite the fact that it requires enormous resources to keep sheet music used in opera houses in sync through the process of preparation, rehearsals, performances, for many hundreds of users.
Annotations like bowings, breathing marks, dynamic indications, cuts, cues have to be written into hundreds of thousands of pages of sheet music, synchronized day by day by music libraries, and – in case of hire material – erased before the music is sent back to the publisher: procedures that heavily call for digitalization.
Since quite some years already several solutions for using digitized sheet music have been developed, however with no or only very restricted functionalities for collaboration, making them very helpful tools for individual musicians or small ensembles, but unusable for bigger institutions.
Already before COVID lockdowns, opera houses and performing arts institutions have more and more felt the need for digitalization of these workflows, but the pandemic and heavy restrictions have increased this pressure: social distancing , difficult travel, shut down venues, rehearsal spaces and closed music libraries finally proofed paper an inapt tool.
Such, the entire ecosystem of creation, distribution, production, performance and recording of music has entered total disruption. Opera houses and performing arts institutions play a key role in this process: both in driving innovation with their requirements, needs and hugely diverse use cases, and with their sheer size and market power in creating the new legal framework for the production, distribution and use of scores.
At the Volksoper Wien, the project team consists of Holger Kristen (Deputy Chorus Director), Sascha Nader (Chorus Manager), Claudia Koloczej (Music Archivist) and Eva Ehgartner-Ruprecht and Roland Gombotz (both Sponsoring & Fundraising Department). On the side of Staatsoper Hannover Linnja Naujoks-Auffenberg (Administration / Inhouse Consultant for Digital Transformation), Vera Fiedler (Assistant to the General Music Director, Orchestra Office Staff), Bert Söhngen, (Head of IT Niedersächsische Staatstheater Hannover GmbH), Ingo J. Jander (Orchestra Director) and Barbara Damm (Director of Artistic Administration Opera) are part of the project team.