Virtual Orchestra at the Science Museum

Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

A brand new six week long digital installation at the Science Museum London starts on the 23rd of May 2012 featuring a virtual Philharmonia Orchestra.
Part of the London 2012 Festival programme, visitors will be able to experience a giant live 360 degree projection of the 105 peice Orchestra performing The Planets in multi-channel surround sound.

Sound good so far? It gets even better. In 10 seperate rooms, each reprecenting a section of the Orchestra, and a number of connecting pods visitors can join in as a musician, conductor, arranger or even composer. Ultimately creating their own new Planets musical experience.

Using new digital technology, visitors can also join in as a conductor by using conductor simulators and moving their hands in front of screens to control the orchestra on different levels. Visitors will also be able to record their performance which will be posted online.

Live instruments will be available to play in some parts of the installation, so visitors can perform with the virtual orchestra and be projected onto screens alongside players. They will also be able to play virtual instruments. Each room will contain the sheet music for each instrument, and visitors will be invited to bring in their own instruments and play along.

Philharmonia musicians will be present each day of the exhibit, playing along live and answering questions. Visitors will also be able to use interactive tools to influence the shape of Joby Talbot’s Worlds, Stars, Systems, Infinity, which has been newly commissioned for the final part of the journey.

Ian Blatchford, Director of the Science Museum, said; “As a passionate lover of classical music I am excited that the Science Museum will be hosting this unique exhibition. Music conquers all the boundaries between art, science, technology and medicine and this incredibly imaginative project will surprise and delight our audience.”

A new website enables visitors to continue their experience after they leave, and offer those unable to visit the chance to experience some of its elements. The online world of the project will also enable users who have visited the exhibition the chance to access content created by them, for example a film of them conducting, which can be shared via social networks.