The Science Museum is to showcase the ‘Universe of Sound’ - a major new digital installation which sees a virtual Philharmonia Orchestra taking up residence in the Science Museum for more than six weeks from 23 May - 8 July 2012. It is also part of the London 2012 Festival programme.
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 performing the piece. Using giant screens, unconventional projecting surfaces, touch screens, movement-based interaction and planetarium-style projection, visitors can step inside the heart of a symphony orchestra taking 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 Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor Esa-Pekka Salonen
- see the entire 105 piece orchestra alongside multi-channel surround sound
- enter 10 separate rooms, each representing a section of the Orchestra, and connecting Pods and join in as a musician, conductor, arranger or composer - ultimately creating your own new Planets musical experience.
Using new digital technology, visitors can also 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 room will contain the sheet music for each instrument, and 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. Visitors will also be able to use interactive tools to influence the shape of Joby Talbot’s Worlds, Stars, Systems, Infinity, which has been newly commissioned for the final part of the journey.
Ian Blatchford, Director of the Science Museum, said; "As a passionate lover of classical music I am excited that the Science Museum will be hosting this unique exhibition. Music conquers all the boundaries between art, science, technology and medicine and this incredibly imaginative project will surprise and delight our audience."
The free exhibit, successor to the multi-award-winning RE-RITE produced by the Philharmonia, fuses music and science, visual art and creative digital technologies to engage new audiences with classical music in a unique, new setting at the Science Museum.
Richard Slaney, the Philharmonia Orchestra’s Head of Digital, commented:
"This project is the perfect fusion of science and the arts. We learnt through RE-RITE that far from being an elitist artform, 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."
Esa-Pekka Salonen, the Philharmonia Orchestra’s Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor, commented:
"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."
A new website (www.universeofsound.co.uk) enables 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. A Blu-ray Disc of the project will be released by Signum Records to coincide with the installation
A virtual Universe of Sound experience will be available on PCs, smartphones, tablets and internet connected TVs through the Arts Council/BBC’s new digital environment The Space.² Cutting-edge video content of a new movement from The Planets will be released onto The Space. Visitors 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.
Universe of Sound has been devised and is presented by Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Philharmonia Orchestra. Its première will be presented at and in partnership with the Science Museum in London from 23 May-8 July (press launch on 22 May) and will then tour to UK cities including Birmingham and Canterbury in 2013. Universe of Sound has been made possible thanks to generous support from using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, the Foundation for Sport and the Arts and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. An interactive DVD release of the footage and audio will be released to coincide with the installation.
For Science Museum queries, please contact Nicola Ryan, Science Museum Press Office – Nicola.firstname.lastname@example.org / 020 7942 4328 @Nicola1PR
For Philharmonia queries, please contact Alice Walton (email@example.com) or Emma Peters (firstname.lastname@example.org) at the Philharmonia Orchestra.
Science Museum Visitor Information:
Science Museum, Exhibition Road, London, SW7 2DD. Open daily 10.00 to 18.00, except 24-26 December. www.sciencemuseum.org.uk / 0870 870 4868
Twitter – @sciencemuseum Facebook – www.facebook.com/sciencemuseumlondon
Notes to Editors
The Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival
The London 2012 Cultural Olympiad is the largest cultural celebration in the history of the modern Olympic and Paralympic Movements. Spread over four years, it is designed to give everyone in the UK a chance to be part of London 2012 and inspire creativity across all forms of culture, especially among young people.
The culmination of the Cultural Olympiad will be the London 2012 Festival, a spectacular 12-week nationwide celebration bringing together leading artists from across the world with the very best from the UK, from Midsummers Day on 21 June and running until the final day of the Paralympic Games on 9 September 2012.The London 2012 Festival will celebrate the huge range, quality and accessibility of the UK’s world-class culture including dance, music, theatre, the visual arts, fashion, film and digital innovation, giving the opportunity for people across the UK to celebrate the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Principal funders of the Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival are Arts Council England, Legacy Trust UK and the Olympic Lottery Distributor. BP and BT are Premier Partners of the Cultural Olympiad and the London 2012 Festival. For more details on the programme and to sign up for information visit www.london2012.com/festival
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.
The Science Museum’s collections form an enduring record of scientific, technological and medical change from the past. Aiming to be the best place in the world for people to enjoy science, the Science Museum makes sense of the science that shapes our lives, sparking curiosity, releasing creativity and changing the future by engaging people of all generations and backgrounds in science, engineering, medicine, technology, design and enterprise. www.sciencemuseum.org.uk
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 multi-award-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
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 RE-RITE, which opened in London and has toured to Lisbon, Dortmund, Turkey and China. www.esapekkasalonen.com
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.