The Boston Symphony Orchestra has launched a music download service, making a selection of tracks of historic BSO, Pops, Chamber Players, and Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra recordings available in both standard MP3 and HD Surround formats at the orchestra’s website.
Four new recordings will be released in late February, 2009, under the auspices of BSO Classics, part of an ongoing project to record all of Mr. Levine’s BSO concerts for both possible recording consideration and archival purposes.
Details of the new releases will be announced later, but they will include Ravel’s Daphnis and Chloe and are drawn from recordings that took place during live performances by James Levine and the orchestra at Symphony Hall
Boston Pops selections already featured include Oscar and Tony, with Keith Lockhart conducting music from Broadway and Hollywood; Sleigh Ride, featuring holiday classics, along with the Pops signature holiday piece, Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride,”; and tracks from America, a collection of beloved patriotic favorites.
Other albums available include the Boston Symphony Chamber Players Mozart Chamber Music for Winds and Strings and the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra’s Beethoven, Ravel and Shostakovich.
The Symphony Hall Centennial Celebration Box Set, a collection of live broadcasts of 48 works from Symphony Hall dating from 1943 to 2000, will also be available for download on the website. The recordings include Serge Koussevitzky conducting Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra, Leonard Bernstein’s Symphony No. 2, “The Age of Anxiety,” with Bernstein on piano, and Seiji Ozawa conducting Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms, all pieces that were premiered by the BSO. Other recordings include Charles Munch conducting Debussy’s “La Mer,” Three Symphonic Sketches; William Steinberg conducting Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8 in C minor; and Pierre Monteux conducting Richard Strauss’s “Don Quixote,” Fantastic variations on a theme of knightly character, Opus 35.
The BSO is the first orchestra to offer downloads in HD Surround, sound which uses multichannel audio to enrich the listener’s experience and reveal audio details never before heard in traditional MP3 format downloads. Only select albums will be available in this format.
Patrons can purchase music as individual tracks, full albums, or as complete multi-movement works. Music sold in 320 kbps open MP3 formatting will cost $8.99 an album, and the HD Surround albums, available in PC Lossless encoding, will cost $12.99. Individual track prices will vary based on the duration of each track; the cost of complete works will be based on the number and duration of movements in a work.
The BSO’s online music store will expand with a variety of new features, including a subscription service, for which patrons will pay a fixed price for unlimited access to the music store for a limited period of time; a search function, allowing music store visitors to search by different composers, conductors, genres, and release dates; and a wish list function that will integrate patrons’ online music store wish lists with their myBSO.org wish lists. MyBSO.org is an individual BSO account where patrons can personalize their account preferences for access to custom-tailored calendars of upcoming performances and exclusive offers.
The Boston Symphony Orchestra’s extensive website, is the largest and most-visited orchestral website in the country, receiving more than 6.3 million visitors annually and generating $40 million in revenue since its launch in 1996. It offers fans information and music beyond the concert hall, providing interactive new media that includes “Classical Companion,” an interactive supplement of special BSO concerts that provides interviews with composers and performers, archival images, and video and sound clips.
BSO Concert Preview Podcasts, focusing on each of the programs of the BSO’s 2008-2009 season, are available through www.bso.org and on iTunes. In addition to purchasing digital music downloads, visitors to www.bso.org can also purchase tickets and merchandise, as well as make donations.