The Memphis Symphony and the Utah Symphony & Opera—Pre-concert entertainment and adverts

Use a screen above the stage to present sponsors or concert trivia

Background trip to a movie theater:

Years ago, theaters began showing advertisements and quiz shows prior to the featured film, arguably to the annoyance of audiences. Yet when orchestras followed the trend, the audience was far more appreciative. A large screen and projector are becoming increasingly common in performance halls, leaving the remaining responsibilities with a PowerPoint expert. Two orchestras are finding distinctly different uses for their screens, though they both began using them at similar times, and have been perfecting their presentations ever since.

The Memphis Symphony Orchestra:

The Memphis Symphony Orchestra performs in a hall that was built with a 15’ x 20’ screen, though the screen only came into use as a pre-concert display three years ago. Prior to the 2004-05 season, when recognizing concert sponsors the MSO hung large banners in their architecturally modern lobby, distracting the clean lines and using a process that was both costly and time-consuming. Looking for an effective method to replace the banners, the MSO adopted the movie theater model and retained the sponsor’s visibility. The typical pre-concert reminders to turn off cell phones, along with announcements of upcoming subscription drives, all found a new home on the screen.

The Memphis Symphony:

  • Runs the slides between 7:30 and 8:05, at which point the screen retracts into the stage ceiling for the start of the concert.
  • Uses 35-40 slides per concert.
  • Promises its sponsors recognition five to eight times, due to cycling slides.
  • Structures the content of slides around each future concert in the MSO season. Each concert occupies three or four slides, with pictures of the solo artists and conductor, followed by a listing of that concert’s works, and concluding with the concert sponsors and company logos.
  • Advertises the opportunity to vote for new pops conductor candidates during its search over the 2006-07 season, resulting in 40-50 percent returns on surveys placed in concert programs.
  • Announces general messages such as the rules against audio or video recording

The Utah Symphony & Opera:

The Utah Symphony student concerts in Abravanel Hall bring students from surrounding schools into the hall during a school day to hear music. The school concerts happen approximately ten times per season, and the schools regularly show up early. In some cases, a school will arrive up to an hour before the concert. Providing activities for the children becomes paramount, and screen projections were developed to solve this problem. The first year of operation, the PowerPoint assumed a didactic structure, though fidgeting children suggested a presentation with more engagement was needed. The structure then became similar to a quiz show, and has been well received, as indicated by the students’ audible responses throughout the slide show.

The slide show:

  • Asks about the family of instruments in the orchestra
  • Gives suggestions of what to listen for
  • Features biographies of Utah Symphony musicians who got their musical start in their public school music programs
  • Displays content in between works at the concert (mandating that the screen remain down throughout the entire concert)


From keeping children entertained and patient to keeping advertising clients happy, the projection screen and PowerPoint combo is creating a new dynamic inside the concert hall. As a method for information dispersal, publicity, entertainment, and education, the screen uses will become increasing tailored and specialized. The possibilities are as diverse as each particular orchestra.

For Additional Info Contact:

Kimberly Shaw Brisco, Director of Marketing at the Memphis Symphony Orchestra at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Beverly Hawkins, Symphony Education Manager at the Utah Symphony & Opera at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.