03. February 2022

LISTEN UP! Development to Start on Interactive App for School Concerts

Smartphone screen with musicians

LISTEN UP! is a smartphone app that gives the analog concert a digital edge. (Picture: MPI for Empirical Aesthetics)

How can the experience of classical music be made more attractive to young people? This is the question informing a new project at the Dresden Philharmonic: In the coming months, the concert house will be developing an interactive app that gets high school students involved directly in school concerts, allowing them to take an active part in their experience of live classical music concerts. A team from the Max Planck Institute of Empirical Aesthetics (MPIEA) in Frankfurt am Main is making a scientific contribution to the project. The app is expected to launch in early 2023.

LISTEN UP! is a smartphone app for young people that gives the analog school concert a digital edge: By meeting them where they are, in their own everyday world, the app allows high school students to participate interactively in live concerts and develop a more focused, active, and intensive experience of classical music. The project has been approved by the German Federal Cultural Foundation, which is also co-financing it. Headed by Melanie Wald-Fuhrmann, the Department of Music of the MPIEA will play a role in the development and evaluation of the app.

“Concerts and the experience of live music have been important areas of research at our Institute for quite some time. In Dresden, we will ask concert participants how the app has influenced their experience of a concert they’ve just come out of and compare this with the effects of other mediation formats,” explains Wald-Fuhrmann.

Music educators or trained students will control the app from backstage during the concert, providing users with information about the composer, the work, or the sequence of movements; setting special listening tasks; and fielding responses. At the same time, the users will be able to take an active part in the concert, for example, by casting votes to influence the lighting inside the concert hall or the subsequent works in the program. There is considerable potential here, for older audiences as well.

In the coming months, the Dresden Philharmonic, the MPIEA, and a software service provider will work closely to develop the app content and technology of the app. It will then undergo several rounds of testing with high school concert audiences and optimized as needed. In 2023, it will be introduced as a regular feature of the Dresden Philharmonic programming.

LISTEN UP! is developed as part of “dive in. Programme for Digital Interactions” of the Kulturstiftung des Bundes (German Federal Cultural Foundation) with funding by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media (BKM) through the NEUSTART KULTUR programme.


Melanie Wald-Fuhrmann