Virtual reality meets the thrill of orchestral music at new Bedford attraction

The attraction is organised by the Philharmonia Orchestra
The attraction is organised by the Philharmonia Orchestra

The world-famous Philharmonia Orchestra is giving families a the chance to experience a symphony orchestra up close for free this summer.

A large tent on Riverside Square will become home to a ten-room installation that showcases the internal workings of the Philharmonia as the orchestra performs Holst’s The Planets, and virtual reality headsets that transport visitors to a concert hall stage where they can see and hear the orchestra up close in 360-degree virtual reality.

Jonathan Mayes, the Philharmonia’s director of residencies and regional programme, said: “It will give the opportunity for thousands of people to interact with a symphony orchestra in an entirely new way.”

The Virtual Orchestra will run from Monday July 2 to Friday August 10. It aims to “engage people through digital experiences” and “broaden and deepen engagement with orchestral music”. There will also be a busy programme of events surrounding the attraction, with activities ranging from karaoke to coffee mornings put on by local artists and musicians.

The Virtual Orchestra culminates with a live concert with a twist at Bedford Corn Exchange on Friday August 10. Philharmonia Orchestra: Live! is designed for audiences who have experienced The Virtual Orchestra. The concert is short, friendly and informal and presented by a specialist to guide the audience through the music. Visitors can relax on a beanbag while you watch or stand at the back and enjoy with a drink.

The Philharmonia Orchestra is the resident orchestra at Bedford Corn Exchange. It has worked on the project with other arts organisations and Bedford Borough Council.

Visit philharmonia.co.uk/virtualorchestra for more information about the Virtual Orchestra.