Virtual Music Love
Today I had the total pleasure of stumbling upon the London Philharmonia's 'Virtual Orchestra' taking place in the Royal Festival Hall on London's Southbank. The Southbank of London is one of my most favourite places in the world and today's interactive musical experience in the Clore Ballroom and foyer of RFH reminded me of the deep love I have for the Big Smoke. I've needed this reminder of late...
There are two components to the Virtual Orchestra experience: an installation and a virtual reality headset experience. The installation, the 'Universe of Sound', allows you to experience Holst's 'The Planets' (yes!) with the sound and visuals of each player of the Philharmonia on screens dotted around 'rooms' with music stands and lit sheet music. You can engage with each section of the orchestra and experience the action/inaction (as my friend noted, "the game face") of the individual player as part of the larger group. The percussion section at the end is especially sensational as children (and some adults!) are encouraged to pick up a mallet or two and play along with two 'conductors', one real and one virtual. My sons were transfixed throughout and I was buzzing.
The 360 Experience is a powerful virtual reality experience made possible with smartphones and some Oculus Rifts, and it is superb! The AA (my other half) is a virtual reality programmer, so it was especially moving to see the hybrid of our two fields of work intertwined in the real world and in such a completely enthralling way. You need to be over seven to experience this one, but it is well worth whatever wait there is. Get thee to RFH pronto.