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A fusion of art and science

— May 2012

Associated media

Step inside an orchestra at the Science Museum, London

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 ThePlanets 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 newPlanets musical experience.

Using new digital technology, visitors can also join in as a conductor by usingconductor 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 ofJoby 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-winningRE-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.

A new website 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 andinternet connected TVs through the Arts Council/BBC’s new digital environment The Space. 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 Soundhas 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.

The Science Museum is at Exhbition Road, London SW7 2DD. Open daily 10.00 a.m. to 6 p.m. except 24-26 December

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