Prizes have total cash value of $5,000

The Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony has partnered with Communitech to organize “Hack the Orchestra” - the first hackathon in the world to give hackers a full professional orchestra and superb concert hall to work with.

This 36-hour hackathon is being held in the heart of Canada's tech mecca and is open to young and less young - students and seasoned software developers. Hackers get to work with the full Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, Music Director Edwin Outwater, guest conductor Carlos Izcaray, Centre In The Square tech crew and others. The KWS plans to demo the winning solutions during a set of KWS concerts in September, 2015.

Hackers do not need a music background. The software and/or hardware solutions could potentially be used to enhance the experience of any type of live performance in venues everywhere!


Get your brand in front of the tech mecca of Canada. Become a sponsor today! Limited sponsorship available. Visit 


Please contact to help out for any length of time. 



May 22 Centre In The Square (CITS)

5:00 pm registration and orientation dinner at Centre In The Square (CITS);

6:00 pm keynote address

  • select sponsors address hackers
  • competition organizers give an overview of the evening’s concert and the weekend’s competition;
  • presentation of what the KWS has tried technically before (what worked, what didn’t)
  • competition rules are reviewed
  • the problem to be resolved is announced

7:00 pm pre-concert lecture (Theatre, CITS)

8:00 pm concert “Beethoven’s Eroica” (details: )

10:30 pm pre-formed teams are assigned workstations, independent hackers record his/her proposed solution on a stickie and posts it under the appropriate general category;  teams of 4 hackers each are formed based on similar interests in a particular solution; newly-formed teams are assigned to specific work areas and assemble there; 11:00 pm Competition begins and continues overnight

May 23

9:00 am Breakfast

10:30 am KWS demo/Q&A session with full orchestra and guest conductor, starts with a brief demonstration, then the orchestra and conductor are available for questions, requested demonstrations, etc.; CITS lighting and audio crew available for consultation. KWS Music Director, Edwin Outwater, available for consultation via Internet video call (from Milwaukee)

11:30 - 12:15 pm Orchestra break; social time for hackers with musicians

12:15 - 1:00 pm orchestra demos / prototype testing as requested by hackers

1:00 pm orchestra dismissed

1:00 pm Kik lunch

1:00 pm - 5 pm Various workshops and sponsor presentations scheduled through the afternoon

6:00 pm Dinner

  Competition continues through the night

May 24   

9:00 am Breakfast

10:30 - 11:30 am Brief presentations by each team to the judges;

11:30 - 12:00 pm 3 finalists selected; awards distributed

12:00 pm Final speeches; Hack the Orchestra  closes


September 25/26, 2015

Demonstration of winning projects during KWS “Beethoven Marathon” concert at Centre In The Square



Hack the Orchestra will supply basic hardware: 

-  24 Myo armbands that developers (on loan) with some on-site engineering support

- Arduino microcontoller

- solderless breadboard and wires

- an assortment of LEDs

- small assortment of buttons and switches

- small 3.5mm cable to take apart to use to plug into a speaker

- small microphone ( a sound sensor not an actual mic)

- small servo motors

Participants may bring their own hardware to work with, but it may not be assembled prior to the official start of the hackathon. 



  • You may participate if you are 12 years old or older. If you are under 18 years old, you must identify yourself as a minor and show proof that you received consent to participate from your parent or guardian before you will be eligible to participate.
  • If you are a team, corporation, or nonprofit organization, then all individual members must meet the eligibility requirements for individual participant

Hackathon Sponsors


$5,000 in prizes

1st Place

This hardware/cash prize has an approximate total value of $2500 CAN for the winning team

2nd Place

This hardware/cash prize has an approximate total value of $1500 CAN for the winning team

3rd Place

This prize has an approximate total value of $1000 CAN for the winning team

Devpost Achievements

Submitting to this hackathon could earn you:

How to enter

Hack the Orchestra is looking for creative and innovative people of all ages who want a unique hackathon challenge and can contribute to a project: mobile, web, hardware, or beyond. An interest in music is helpful but in-depth knowledge is definitely not a requirement. If you think it would be cool to work with a world-class orchestra, conductors and concert hall then this is for you!


Michael Macaulay

Michael Macaulay
2nd Bassoon, Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony

Steve McCartney

Steve McCartney
VP, Startup Services at Communitech

Joseph Fung

Joseph Fung
VP HCM Products at NetSuite

Heather Galt (Armstrong)

Heather Galt (Armstrong)
Head of Marketing and Privacy at Kik Interactive, Inc

Marc Stevens

Marc Stevens
General Manager, National Arts Centre Orchestra

Judging Criteria

  • Innovation
    Innovation Is the solution a different take on an existing application or is it truly unique? Does the app mash up data or services that you wouldn’t have thought would work together? Is the solution more technically challenging than the others
  • User Experience
    Is the UI professional and easy to use? Is it intuitive?
  • Usefulness
    Is this app enhancing the user's overall experience of a live concert or is it distracting?
  • Overall Quality
    Was the solution fully functional, or could be within a short development time before the formal roll-out in September, 2015? How many bugs were encountered?

Tell your friends

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.