Virtual Orchestra in Bedford

Published on 26 June 2018

On Monday 2 July, the Philharmonia opens The Virtual Orchestra in Bedford, marking the opening of the Orchestra's four-year audience development project across its UK residencies (click here for more information)

The Philharmonia has been resident at Bedford Corn Exchange for 24 years. The Virtual Orchestra, a free experience for all the family that gives everyone the opportunity to experience a symphony orchestra up-close, is presented in the nearby Riverside Square. A large tent on the square becomes home to a 10-room installation that showcases the internal workings of the Philharmonia as the orchestra performs Holst’s The Planets; and audiences can experience a live orchestra through virtual reality headsets.

More details:

  • Free six-week outdoor digital installation on Riverside Square, Bedford: 2 July – 10 August 2018
  • The opportunity to play along with the orchestra’s percussion section, use the Philharmonia’s virtual reality headsets and join a guided tour of the installation led by music specialists
  • Schools, community-group and family workshops to bring hundreds people of all ages into contact with orchestral music
  • A busy Fringe programme with activities ranging from karaoke to coffee mornings put on by local artists and musicians responding to The Virtual Orchestra
  • The Virtual Orchestra culminates with a live concert with a twist on 10 August 2018 at Bedford Corn Exchange

The Virtual Orchestra is the Philharmonia's flagship audience development project and which aims to broaden and deepen engagement with orchestral music. The concept at the heart of this ambitious project is to engage people through digital experiences – and associated outreach programme and live performances – outside of the concert hall in public spaces and in the local community, all in partnership with local arts organisations and charities. This major project is generously supported by three foundations: Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Paul Hamlyn Foundation and John Ellerman Foundation.

The Virtual Orchestra installation takes place at the newly-built Riverside Square in Bedford from Monday 2 July – Friday 10 August 2018. Around this central hub of activity, the orchestra delivers a series of schools, family and community workshops with fun hands-on activities for all ages. A fringe programme delivered by local groups including Fusion Youth Singing and Band and Bedford Creative Arts, schools and the Philharmonia Orchestra hosts activities around the town such as karaoke (3 August 2018), and free running (10 August 2018), with themes related to Holst’s The Planets.

Philharmonia Orchestra: Live! is a special live concert (10 August 2018, Bedford Corn Exchange) conceived for audiences who have experienced The Virtual Orchestra. The concert is short, friendly and informal and presented by a specialist to guide audiences through the music.

Visiting The Virtual Orchestra installation on Riverside Square is free with no ticket or pre-booking required. For further details about booking workshops and concert tickets, and opening and performance times, click here.

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