Walter Legge

Founded in 1945 by the legendary EMI Producer Walter Legge, the Philharmonia are the most recorded orchestra in the world, having been EMI’s in-house recording orchestra for decades.

The Philharmonia have always been at the forefront of technology, having been conceived to capitalise on the then cutting-edge technology of recorded music.

The orchestra are celebrating their 70th anniversary this year, and over the course of their 15/16 Season (starting late Sept 15), they will be celebrating their rich history, releasing several old recordings, images and videos from the archives.

The Philharmonia continue to be at the forefront of technology, with a reputation as the UK’s digital orchestra, having conceived of and delivered several award-winning digital projects in-house. At the heart of these projects are their large-scale digital productions, RE-RITE and Universe of Sound.

Universe of Sound Truro - Walk Through from Philharmonia Orchestra on Vimeo.

RE-RITE and Universe of Sound

The Philharmonia’s digital productions have toured the world, and offer visitors the unique experience of walking inside an orchestra. Our two main digital exhibitions are RE-RITE and Universe of Sound, which are immersive filmed performances by the Philharmonia Orchestra of the Rite of Spring by Stravinsky and The Planets by Holst, conducted by our Principal Conductor, Esa-Pekka Salonen.

As digital interactive exhibitions, they can be hosted in museums, universities, car parks and tents, breaking the different sections of an orchestra into separate rooms, allowing visitors to walk through each section at their own pace, seeing and hearing each element of the orchestral experience. They include an interactive percussion room, where you can play along to the piece, the conductor pods, where you can conduct the whole orchestra, to a giant dome, which you can sit under and listen to the whole piece.

Layout and Structure

An example of a layout of Universe of Sound inside a tent

The Philharmonia’s in-house production team have adapted our installations to all kinds of structures (tents, car parks, museums), although they are particularly well suited to abandoned and derelict spaces. RE-RITE was first installed in the derelict Bargehouse building on the South Bank, where it won a Royal Philharmonic Society award.

The installations require a minimum layout of 20m x 20m (as in example of a tent layout above, which was 30m x 20m). This can be one large open space or split over multiple smaller rooms within a venue.

We transform each room into a section of the orchestra.

150207 conductor pod from Philharmonia Orchestra on Vimeo.

Conductor Pods

Universe of Sound Conductor Pods give audiences the unique opportunity to conduct the Philharmonia Orchestra in a performance of Holst's The Planets.

Using Kinect-based interactive technology, each pod is a conductor simulator which allows audience members to control the playback and dynamic range of the Orchestra gesturally.

Developed in conjunction with Philharmonia Orchestra's Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor Esa-Pekka Salonen, these interactive pods are designed to play both in-exhibition and independently and are suited to installation in a wide range of public environments.

Previous locations have included arts centres and museums, shopping malls, schools and universities.

Audience Development

  • The productions aim to ignite interest in orchestral music, building audiences for and engagement with music- making of all genres, especially orchestral music.
  • We have a long track record of working with local communities, from schools, music hubs and conservatoires, to local and national institutions we aim to create a lasting legacy from our projects. In fact, our installations work better with greater engagement from such local partners.
  • The installations encourage very deep engagement with visitors, with over 40% of all visitors staying for 45 minutes or more, and appealing to all age groups.
  • We have created specific school packs & educational resources (such as our Listening Guides) which we can tailor for each production and local partner.
  • Our latest project, iOrchestra, is currently running in the South-West of the UK, and has just won the Royal Philharmonic Society award for Audiences & Engagement.


iOrchestra is the Philharmonia’s latest and largest Audience Development project, with its digital installations at its heart. Running over 2 years, we have toured our productions across the South-West of the UK, and expect to reach well over 100,000 people by the end of the project.

iOrchestra is comprised of 3 main elements (see photos below):

  • The Tent – RE-RITE & Universe of Sound in a giant marquee.
  • Live Concerts by the Philharmonia Orchestra
  • MusicLab - a digital mobile trailer

MusicLab is a mobile installation which contains a collection of bespoke digital interactions that have been developed for both experienced musicians and those who have never picked up an instrument before.

Initially set up in a mobile trailer, all of the interactions in MusicLab could be transported into a temporary pop-up installation – either at a school, workshop or conference.

Additional Information

  • Our largest production Universe of Sound is currently running in Truro in Cornwall and open to the public from:

        - 29 June - 10 July 2015, 10am - 6pm

        - 11 July 2015, 10am - 2pm
  • All of our digital productions can be shipped, installed, run and then dismantled by our in-house production team. We have all of the hardware ready in flight-cases.
  • We have experience of working with unconventional and sometimes derelict spaces, such as underground car parks, derelict building sites and disused office spaces.

For more information or to arrange a guided tour of Universe of Sound while it’s open, please contact:

Luke Ritchie
Head of Digital
Philharmonia Orchestra

M: 07983 447751
E: [email protected]


Universe of Sound

Created by Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Philharmonia Orchestra

Universe of Sound was made possible through support from:


Created by Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Philharmonia Orchestra

Re-Rite was made possible through support from: