September 10, 2013

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

VSO to Premiere First iPad Concerto in U.S.

VALDOSTA — The Valdosta Symphony Orchestra will celebrate the opening of its 24th season with the United States premiere of Ned McGowan’s innovative Concerto for iPad and Orchestra on Saturday, Sept. 14. The performance will begin at 8 p.m. on the Valdosta State University Whitehead Auditorium stage.

“Planning for this season began over a year ago,” said Dr. Howard Hsu, VSO music director, “so I’ve been looking forward to starting this season for quite a while.” 


“It’s an honor for Valdosta and the VSO to host such an important event …,”he added, describing the Concerto for iPad and Orchestra as “unique and innovative … the first of its kind.”  

During a typical season, the Valdosta Symphony Orchestra can feature as few as 40 instruments or as many as 90, including the violin, viola, cello, contrabass, piccolo, flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, and contrabassoon.

“But we’ve never had an iPad be part of the orchestra,” Hsu said, “much less be the featured soloist.” 


McGowan, who was born in the U.S. but moved to the Netherlands roughly 20 years ago, is credited as the first composer to “prove” to the world that the iPad can be a superb musical instrument, not just a technological gadget for social networking or browsing the web, playing games or watching videos, and so on. 

Featuring Amsterdam-based pianist and fortepianist Keiko Shichijo “masterfully employing various musical iPad apps to interact with the VSO,” McGowan’s Concerto for iPad and Orchestra, “Rotterdam Concerto 2,” consists of three movements, each with its own personality and style. Hsu said the concert will feature a visual element, with a live video projected on a screen above the orchestra allowing the audience to see how Shichijo uses the popular Apple tablet’s various musical apps and what they look like. 

The Valdosta Symphony Orchestra’s 2013-2014 season-opening concert will come to a “thunderous conclusion” with Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony.     

Individual tickets for the concert are $27 each, tax and fees included. Reservations are required. Season ticket packages are available and include seating at five VSO performances. VSU faculty and staff are eligible to receive a 20 percent discount on season tickets. 

Saturday’s concert is sponsored by First Federal Savings of Valdosta. 

A special youth concert featuring McGowan’s Concerto for iPad and Orchestra will be held at 10 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 13. It is sponsored by the City of Valdosta. For this special event, the VSO will perform the final movement of McGowan’s iPad concerto, which utilizes sampling. 

“The composer will explain what we are doing, and the audience will see how the recorded samples are incorporated into the music,” Hsu said. “I know the students will enjoy seeing the iPad’s capabilities being utilized with the orchestra.”   

At 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 11, in Valdosta State University’s Student Union, the VSO will host an iPad Party. Attendees will have an opportunity to meet McGowan and Shichijo, learn how to use various iPad music apps, and play in an iPad choir. 

“ … everyone is invited to bring their iPads and join in the music-making,” said Hsu. “No musical experience is needed to join in.”   

The iPad Party is open to the general public — anyone who has an interest in music and/or the iPad — and is free of charge. Refreshments will be served. Attendees are asked to pre-install the following free apps from the App Store to get the most out of the party: Loop, Soundrop, Echo String, Mugician, and TouchSounds. An optional app, Bowls HD, costs 99 cents. Attendees who do not have a VSU ID but who wish to have WiFi access during the event should email Hsu at as soon as possible. 

The Student Union is located on VSU’s main campus, at the intersection of Oak Street and Baytree Road. Visitor parking for Wednesday’s iPad Party is available in the Oak Street surface lot.   

Whitehead Auditorium is located on the first floor of VSU’s Fine Arts Building, on the corner of Brookwood Drive and Oak Street. 

Visit or contact Sarah Alexander with VSU’s College of Arts Outreach Office at (229) 333-2150 or to reserve tickets or learn more. 

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About the Valdosta Symphony Orchestra

Created in 1990, the Valdosta Symphony Orchestra serves both the cultural life of Valdosta and the regional academic mission of Valdosta State University. The high standard of performance of the orchestra enables it to attract guest soloists of national and international renown to the Valdosta community. The orchestra's membership is a unique blend of resident artist-faculty, students studying professional music disciplines, talented community performers, and carefully selected professionals from a five-state region. Supported by an Advisory Board of Directors, the Valdosta Symphony Guild, Valdosta State University, corporate sponsors, and hundreds of individual patrons, the orchestra has become an important part of the cultural life of the entire region.

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