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UNIVERSE OF SOUND: Virtual Philharmonia Orchestra tours to Canterbury

15 April 2013

Following the success of Summer 2012's Universe of Sound installation at London's Science Museum the Philharmonia Orchestra has announced a tour of Universe of Sound to Canterbury.

Universe of Sound will tour to Canterbury as part of the Philharmonia’s Residency in the city. For two weeks between 27 April and 12 May 2013, Universe of Sound will be installed in Augustine House, on the campus of Canterbury Christ Church University, with their support as well as the support of local bodies including The Marlowe Theatre, Kent Music, Soundhub, the Sounds New Festival, and Canterbury City Council.

Universe of Sound is a free installation, the successor to the multi-award-winning RE-RITE, which fuses music and science, visual art and creative digital technologies to engage new audiences with classical music in a radical and ambitious new way. The concept was devised by the Philharmonia’s Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor

Esa-Pekka Salonen in partnership with the Orchestra’s in-house Digital team. The film footage for the installation, which was shot in a single day on 24 January 2012, involved 37 cameras, in what is believed to be the largest classical music film shoot ever undertaken. More than 67,000 people visited it at the Science Museum between 22 May and 27 August 2012.

“An impressive feat…this installation certainly gives a taste of the Orchestra’s amazing richness.” The Daily Telegraph, 23 May 2012

Universe of Sound is a hi-definition interactive immersive experience. Using giant screens, touch screens, unconventional projecting surfaces, movement-based interaction and planetarium-style full-dome projection, the installation will enable visitors to step inside a symphony orchestra and experience Esa-Pekka Salonen and 105 musicians performing Gustav Holst’s The Planets, taking on the roles of musician, conductor and even composer. The installation also includes a newly commissioned companion work, Worlds, Stars, Systems, Infinity, by Joby Talbot.

Universe of Sound allows visitors to:

  • see the entire orchestra alongside multi-channel surround sound.
  • experience giant live 360 degree projections of the Orchestra performing The Planets conducted by Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor Esa-Pekka Salonen.
  • enter a series of 10 separate rooms (each representing a section of the Orchestra) and connected Pods, which offer visitors opportunities to participate in the Orchestra as musicians, conductors, arrangers and composers, ultimately creating their own new Planets musical experience.

Using creative digital technology, visitors can also experience being a conductor by using conductor simulators and moving their hands in front of screens to control the orchestra on different participatory levels. In the build-up to the opening of the installation, some of these pods will ‘appear’ in locations near the site of the main installation. Live instruments will be available to play in some parts of the installation, so visitors can perform alongside 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 their instruments and play along. Philharmonia musicians will also be present inside the installation, playing along live and answering questions. Visitors will be able to use interactive tools to influence the shape of Joby Talbot’s Worlds, Stars, Systems, Infinity, a new companion to The Planets, which has been commissioned for the final part of the journey.

Building on the success of last summer’s installation, a bespoke education programme has been devised for schools in the local areas. As well as guided tours of the installation, children will be able to take part in interactive workshops at their schools, introducing them to the music. A dedicated online facility (www.universeofsound.co.uk) will enable visitors to continue their experience, and offer those unable to attend the physical installation the opportunity 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. A Blu-ray Disc of the project will be released by Signum Records in March to coincide with the installation.

A virtual Universe of Sound experience is available on PCs, smartphones, tablets and internet connected TVs through the Arts Council/BBC’s new digital environment The Space (www.thespace.org), with extended content and interactivity. Visitors to this content can choose their own camera angles, dynamics and commentary; each movement can be explored with in-depth listening guides; and using a Virtual Tour tool, visitors to The Space will be virtually taken through each section of the installation online.

Esa-Pekka Salonen, the Philharmonia Orchestra’s Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor, said: “This project offers everyone, from the very young to the very old, from the absolute novice to the experienced musician, the chance to step right into the heart of one of the world’s finest symphony orchestras. Our world is by turns preposterously loud, pin-drop quiet, highly-charged, intense and frequently overwhelming. Come and join us – you won’t be disappointed.”

Richard Slaney, the Philharmonia Orchestra’s Head of Digital, commented:“This project is the perfect fusion of digital technology and the arts. We learnt through RE-RITE that far from being an elitist art form, there is a colossal public enthusiasm for experiencing classical music, and for stepping inside a real, live orchestra. This project is five times as ambitious, and ten times as exciting. We can’t wait to show people how thrilling a live orchestra really is.”

Professor Roderick Watkins, the Dean of Arts and Humanities at Canterbury Christchurch University, commented: "I am delighted that Canterbury Christ Church University is able to host this extraordinary installation on the first stop of its tour outside of London, and look forward to welcoming audiences of all ages to what promises to be a memorable journey around one of the world's leading orchestras."

Universe of Sound has been devised and is presented by Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Philharmonia Orchestra. Universe of Sound has been made possible thanks to generous support from using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, the Eranda Foundation, the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, the Foundation for Sport and the Arts, the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and The Space. An interactive DVD release of the footage and audio will be released to coincide with the installation.

Notes to Editor

For further information please contact Alice Walton (alice.walton@philharmonia.co.uk) or Isla Jeffrey (isla.jeffrey@philharmonia.co.uk) at the Philharmonia Orchestra.

Philharmonia Orchestra

Acknowledged as the UK’s foremost musical pioneer, with an extraordinary recording legacy, the Philharmonia Orchestra leads the field for its quality of playing, and for its innovative approach to audience development, residencies, music education and the use of new technologies – including digital installations such as the multiaward- winning RE-RITE, webcasts, podcasts, downloads and computer games – in reaching a global audience. Together with its relationships with the world’s most sought-after artists, most importantly its Principal Conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen, the Philharmonia is at the heart of British musical life. www.philharmonia.co.uk

Esa-Pekka Salonen

Composer and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen has been Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the Philharmonia Orchestra since September 2008, continuing a relationship that dates back almost 25 years. His tenure has been dominated by landmark multi-disciplinary festivals, exploring the music of key 20th-century composers and musical movements in their widest possible cultural, social and historical context. Salonen’s dedication to technology, digital platforms and outreach has been realised through his work with the Philharmonia Orchestra on a number of innovative projects; prior to Universe of Sound he devised the award-winning Philharmonia digital installation RERITE, which opened in London and has toured to Lisbon, Dortmund, Turkey and China. www.esapekkasalonen.com

Joby Talbot

Joby Talbot has composed classical and concert works for major orchestras, choirs, vocal groups and soloists, scores for film and television, and has collaborated with major contemporary choreographers including Wayne McGregor, as well as with internationally acclaimed pop musicians. Film and TV work includes feature films The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Son of Rambow, Penelope, Franklyn and Is Anybody There? and themes and scores for British comedy series The League of Gentlemen and Psychoville.

The Space

The Space is a joint initiative by the BBC and Arts Council England – a new, digital arts media service which will be available free of charge via the internet, smartphones, tablets and smart TV, and as a red button Video on Demand service. Launching in May 2012 and running until the end of October – to coincide with and complement the wealth of arts activity in 2012, including the London 2012 Festival and wider Cultural Olympiad – The Space will help transform the way people connect with and experience arts and culture and give artists the space to innovate and experiment. www.thespace.org.

Universe of Sound, Canterbury Christ Church University, Augustine House

The Universe of Sound Digital Installation is at Canterbury Christ Church University, Augustine House, Rhodaus Town, Canterbury CT1 2YA from Saturday 27 April - Sunday 12 May. Admission is free and the project is supported by partners Marlowe Theatre, Sounds New Festival, Canterbury City Council, Kent Music and Soundhub. As the Resident Orchestra at the Marlowe Theatre, the Philharmonia will be performing on Friday 10 May, for more information visit www.marlowetheatre.com

Canterbury Christ Church University

Canterbury Christ Church University is a modern university with a particular strength in higher education for the public services.

With nearly 20,000 students, across Kent and Medway, its courses span a wide range of academic and professional subject areas.

  • 93% of our recent UK undergraduates are in employment or further studies six months after completing their studies*.
  • Christ Church is the number one choice for local people looking to study at university in Kent (2011 UCAS).
  • We are the South East’s largest provider of courses for public service careers (outside of London).

*2010/11 Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey

For media enquiries:

Jeanette Earl
01227 782391