New England Conservatory is pleased to present the results of Nicholas Kitchen's explorations of Mendelssohn's 1825 Ottetto in the form of an Augmented Reality experiment that you can experience with your webcam, as well as a collection of videos, curated by Kitchen, that helps kick off New England Conservatory's presence on iTunes U.
The 1825 version of Felix Mendelssohn's Ottetto, written when the composer was only 16 years old, contains many changes, both large and small, that differ from the version of the Octet that Mendelssohn finally turned into his publisher in 1832. R. Larry Todd, Duke Professor of Musicology and author of Mendelssohn: A Life in Music, speculates that Mendelssohn was a composer who had a case of "revision illness," which often left him hypercritical of his own work and never satisfied. This accounts for the seven-year gap between the completion of the 1825 version and the better-known version of the work published in 1832.
Nicholas Kitchen, first violinist of the Borromeo String Quartet, NEC's Quartet-in-Residence, was granted access to the score of the 1825 Ottetto by the Library of Congress, and became excited with the idea of performing the lesser-known 1825 version at New England Conservatory with the Borromeos, joined by the Ariel String Quartet, 2010 graduates of NEC's Professional String Training Program.
On October 27, 2009, using eight laptop computers to read a copy of the score provided by the Library of Congress, the two quartets joined forces in NEC's Jordan Hall for a thrilling performance of the 1825 version of Felix Mendelssohn's Ottetto. Projected on a screen in NEC's Jordan Hall behind the quartets were the pages of Mendelssohn's 1825 score, which the audience viewed moving from movement to movement in real time as the performance progressed.
Augmented reality is a technology that blurs the lines between virtual, computer-generated reality and the real world. NEC offers you a chance to experience Augmented Reality with our own Nicholas Kitchen, first violinist of the Borromeo String Quartet, NEC's Quartet-in-Residence, as he explains his investigation of Felix Mendelssohn's 1825 Otttetto.
Sounds like fun?
Here's what to do!
1. Download and print out the NEC Augmented Reality marker (in PDF format).
2. Point your web browser to the NEC Augmented Reality webpage. Wait for the Flash Player to load, and click "Allow" if prompted to request access to your webcam by necmusic.edu.
3. Finally, hold the NEC Augmented Reality marker in front of your webcam until the violin on your marker lines up with the violin on the NEC Augmented Reality webpage.
Feel free to move your marker in any direction, or as close or as far away from your webcam as you wish. The more you play, the more interesting things can get!
Below is an example of how NEC's Augmented Reality will look on your computer, after you follow those three, easy steps!