Two spectacular concerts brought shoppers to a standstill as the world class Philharmonia Orchestra played live at Festival Place in Basingstoke.
With giant planets suspended overhead, the orchestra played a stirring programme including Beethoven’s Symphony No 5, the Mars movement from Holst’s Planet Suite, Steiner’s It Came From Outer Space, and Bartok’s Romanian Folk Dances.
More than 1,000 people stopped to listen to the two performances, with delighted members of the audience invited up to conduct the orchestra as they played.
The informal concerts were part of a mission to bring live orchestral music to the masses, which saw Festival Place partnering with the Philharmonia Orchestra and The Anvil in Basingstoke.
Visitors to the shopping centre and leisure destination have been invited to enjoy a Virtual Orchestra experience throughout July and the beginning of August.
A 10-room digital installation guided visitors through the workings of a professional orchestra, culminating in a rolling performance of the seven-movement Planet Suite in a room dominated by huge video screens showing individual members of the orchestra in action.
There was also a chance to try virtual reality headsets, which transported the wearer to a concert hall stage for an extraordinary close-up glimpse into the sights and sounds of a symphony orchestra.
The two live concerts saw a specialist guiding the audience through the music alongside critically acclaimed international conductor Holly Mathieson, presenter Tim Steiner, and BSL interpreter Angie Newman, who hand signed each performance.
Neil Churchill, Centre Director at Festival Place, said: “So many people never have the chance to listen to world class music live, so the fact that we were able to bring this experience to such a large audience for free was really fantastic.
“The feedback we received has been incredible, with everyone – young and old – loving both performances.
“The whole Virtual Orchestra experience has been a great success with our visitors and also with the local community, with schools and groups joining us for special workshops.”
Jonathan Mayes, the Philharmonia’s Director of Residencies and Regional Programme, said: ““The Philharmonia has thoroughly enjoyed extending its music beyond the Anvil in Basingstoke over the past two months.
“These two concerts have served as part of the culmination of our The Virtual Orchestra project, which has already seen over 15,000 interactions with members of the public.
“We are delighted with the reception we have received in Basingstoke and are particularly grateful to Festival Place for all their support in delivering the project.
“We look forward to welcoming these new audiences to our future concerts in Basingstoke!”