The Virtual Orchestra at Festival Place

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Published on:06 JULY 2019

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Festival Place hosts the Philharmonia Orchestra’s free out-of-this-world experience with The Virtual Orchestra

Customers at Festival Place Shopping Centre in Basingstoke are invited to take the best seat in the house for an out-of-this-world performance of Holst’s The Planets – and they won’t have to pay a penny.

The shopping centre and leisure destination has partnered with the world-famous Philharmonia Orchestra and The Anvil to install the Philharmonia’s The Virtual Orchestra on the upper level of Festival Place from July 6 to August 11.

The 10-room digital installation offers visitors the chance to play along with the Orchestra’s percussion section and join a guided tour of the orchestra led by music specialists.

Virtual reality headsets will transport the wearer to the concert hall stage, allowing them to stand next to the musicians as they tune up and play, giving an extraordinary close-up glimpse into the sights and sounds of a symphony orchestra.

The event will include two spectacular family-friendly live concerts performed by the Philharmonia in Porchester Square at 2pm and 3.30pm on August 4, giving as many people as possible the chance to experience the thrill of hearing live orchestral music. The concerts will be short, friendly and informal, and a specialist will guide the audience through the music, alongside critically acclaimed international conductor Holly Mathieson, who will be joined on stage by BSL interpreter Angie Newman.

Neil Churchill, Centre Director at Festival Place, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to explore a symphony orchestra from the inside as it performs Holst’s The Planets, making your way through the installation from violins to percussion, and from Mercury to Neptune.

“There will also be school, community group, and family workshops with fun activities, allowing as many people as possible to enjoy this wonderful orchestral music.

“A quiet hour will take place at selected times for those who may find the experience too loud or dark.”

Festival Place is the last destination for this exciting project, which has previously travelled to Bedford, Leicester and Canterbury and has so far had more than 45,000 interactions.

The experience is being delivered by Festival Place, the Philharmonia Orchestra, and The Anvil, where the orchestra has been Orchestra in Partnership since September 2000.

Jonathan Mayes, the Philharmonia’s Director of Residencies and Regional Programme, said: “We are delighted to bring The Virtual Orchestra to Basingstoke having spent the last 18 months developing the project with Basingstoke Together, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, local arts organisations, and our principal partners Festival Place and Anvil Arts.

“The audience development work at the heart of The Virtual Orchestra is central to our UK residencies programme and this programme will see thousands of people interacting with cultural activities in an entirely new way.

“For many people, this will be the first time that they experience orchestral music and we have already found that the digital platform for this exposure can be overwhelmingly powerful.

“We look forward to welcoming Basingstoke to The Virtual Orchestra this summer!”

Visiting The Virtual Orchestra installation at Festival Place is free. For further details about booking workshops and concert tickets and opening and performance times,

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