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Science Museum hosts the ‘Universe of Sound’: a virtual Philharmonia Orchestra

Science Museum hosts the ‘Universe of Sound’: a virtual Philharmonia Orchestra, flickr: heatheronhertravels


This summer, the Science Museum in London will showcase the “Universe of Sound” – a major new digital installation which will see a virtual Philharmonia Orchestra taking up residence in the museum from May 23rd to the 8th of July.

Universe of Sound is a hi-definition interactive experience, taking a famous piece of classical music, Gustav Holst’s “The Planets”, and presenting a “virtual” Philharmonia Orchestra performance of the piece. Using giant screens, unconventional projecting surfaces, touch screens, movement-based interaction and planetarium-style projection, visitors will get a chance to “step inside the heart of a symphony orchestra” and take on the role of a musician, conductor, or even a composer.

As part of Universe of Sound, visitors will be able to experience giant live 360 degree projections of the orchestra performing “The Planets” conducted by its principal conductor and artistic advisor, Esa-Pekka Salonen. The entire 105 piece orchestra will be visible and heard in multi-channel surround sound. Using new digital technology, visitors will also be able to 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 of a total of ten rooms will contain the sheet music for each instrument. 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 as well.

A new website ( will enable 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.


Photo: heatheronhertravels



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Morly Cowan

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