Have you ever wondered what’s it like to sit right in front of the conductor - and not just any conductor, but Esa-Pekka Salonen no less - in the final section of Mahler’s Third Symphony?
A new installation created in partnership with the Philharmonia Orchestra and London's Southbank Centre offers the chance to experience exactly that - virtually, that is. Called VR Sound Stage, visitors sit within a specially constructed seven-metre space, surrounded by 18 speakers, sited in the Royal Festival Hall's foyer area. Of course, with the headset on, such details disappear - what you see is Salonen, right in front of you, the Royal Festival Hall audience behind him, and players all around you on the stage. The aim is to replicate what you would see and hear in such a position: instrumental sounds come from the appropriate sides, and as with all VR, turning the head and looking around replicates that experience exactly.
The new film - which was made during the final powerful section of Mahler’s Third Symphony in a Royal Festival Hall performance on October 1, 2017 - follows earlier experimentation with virtual reality by the Philharmonia, including a film of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony unveiled last year and which is also showing at the Southbank. VR Sound Stage is in the Royal Festival Hall until Saturday, and though free, tickets have all now gone.