The conductor will be represented by his avatar

In the internet virtual world Second Life, you can buy property, gamble and go to lectures. You can attend film festivals, go to gigs and buy art. And next month, a British orchestra will stage the first full-scale symphonic concert on the site.The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic has created a virtual, 3-D version of its concert hall and on September 14 users of the website will be able to attend a concert led by the orchestra's chief conductor, Vasily Petrenko.

Far from compromising with popular classics, the orchestra will perform, aside from works by Ravel and Rachmaninov, two premieres, by Liverpool composers Kenneth Hesketh and John McCabe. One hundred tickets to the concert will be available to the 8 million users of the site by lottery. Users will sit in the virtual concert hall and watch a live video and audio stream of the event, after which they will be able to go to the bar for a live Q&A session, at which the conductor will be represented by his avatar (animated character).

Michael Elliott, the orchestra's chief executive, said: "Orchestras today are committed to reaching out to make their music more accessible to encourage new audiences."That means embracing the opportunities presented by new technology. For us, Second Life, which has grown explosively since launching in 2003, allows us to tap into a potential global audience. It's also a lot of fun and it certainly adds a different dimension to the more traditional visit to a concert hall."

Millicent Jones, the orchestra's executive director of marketing and communications, added: "We hope that we will be creating a group of people on the site who would never have the chance to buy a ticket to a concert in real life but who are curious about the experience and might get something out of the performance."Clearly it's never going to exactly replicate the experience of sitting live in a concert hall, but what distinguishes this from doing an audio stream via our website is that on Second Life it will be a collective experience. People will be experiencing the watching of a performance within a group of people, and there will be an opportunity to discuss it: it's about creating a community"

The extract above is Charlotte Higgins gushing in today's Guardian. Last year she gushed how the London Symphony Orchestra had found a major new audience, now the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic has discovered Second Life.

I'm off, in a minute, to get a First Life with some live music at this evening's Snape Prom. The cheapest tickets are only £6 ($12), but it does involve getting out of my chair. Let's hope the Guardian also runs some stories about the live music projects that are bringing people back to classical music. Follow this path for an inspirational project that reached more than twelve times the projected audience of the more media friendly Second Life concert. But, of course, you read it all here first.

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Pliable said…
Not only is John McCabe a very talented contemporary composer. He is also a very fine pianist -
see this post.
Marc van Bree said…
This, and the news that Dresden has opened a virtual version of the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, is an interesting development. Making art (education) more accessible and creating discussion is great: they hit the nail on its head when they said "it's about creating a community."
Mell said…
Sorry to correct but, the first symphonic concert on Second Life was with Cleveland's Red {an orchestra} a few months ago.

There's more information here:
Pliable said…
Mell, please don't apologise. Corrections are the lifeblood of the Overgrown Path.

Your correction confirms my thinking that this story is more a media event than a musical event.

It rather summarises the current media approach of 'why let the facts stand in the way of a good story?".

I've passed the correction on to the Guardian and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic.
Pliable said…
Email received back from Royal Liverpool Philharmonic

Dear Pliable

Thanks for this. In our statements to the press we stated that this will be the first performance by a professional orchestra in Second Life. It wasn't clear to me that Red is a professional ensemble.

Millicent Jones
Executive Director (Marketing and Communications)
Mell said…
As a participant in the Red concert in question, I can assure the RLP that Red is a professional orchestra. We were specially polled by management beforehand to ask if our contractural media broadcast fee could also include the simulcast on Second Life.

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