Linda Dusman, Music, and Eric Smallwood, Visual Arts, in partnership with the School of Music at the University of Maryland, College Park, have received a $150,000 Maryland Innovation Initiative (MII) grant for their work on the tablet app, Symphony Interactive. MII was created as a partnership between the State of Maryland and five Maryland academic research institutions (Johns Hopkins University; Morgan State University; UMCP; University of Maryland Baltimore; and UMBC), and is managed by TEDCO, created by the Maryland State Legislature in 1998 to facilitate the transfer and commercialization of technology from Maryland’s research universities and federal labs into the marketplace. The MII program promotes the commercialization of academic research conducted in the partnership universities. Symphony Interactive is only the second project within the humanities ever to receive an award from MII, and the first to be funded in the arts and humanities at UMBC.
Symphony Interactive provides contemporary audiences a novel way to engage with live orchestral performances. Through both text and images presented through a unique interface at the exact moment the information is most pertinent to the music, SI enables an enriched experience for users by allowing them to learn about the music and its cultural history during its performance. Acting as an informed “friend,” the app subtly provides information to enhance engagement, keeping the experience of the live performance paramount. During the grant period, the SI team will create a library for thirty of the most performed orchestral works, producing unique textual and visual information for each piece. Over the next nine months, the grant funding also will enable developing a more fully featured proof of concept application, expanding the social media extensions of the app, and performing valuable market research to aid in the commercialization process.
The Symphony Interactive project has been in development since 2011, with support from the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and the Office of the Vice President for Research. Development has progressed through collaboration with many faculty, staff and students from Music, Visual Arts, the Imaging Research Center, Human Centered Computing, and the Department of Information Technology. Symphony Interactive has been tested in performances by the UMBC Symphony, and most recently at the National Orchestra Institute at the Clarice Smith Center for the Performing Arts.