Philharmonia wins RPS award for Audiences & Engagement for iOrchestra in 2014

Wednesday 6 May, 2015

PHILHARMONIA ORCHESTRA WINS ROYAL PHILHARMONIC SOCIETY AWARD FOR PIONEERING iORCHESTRA PROJECT

  • Philharmonia Orchestra is recognised for its ground-breaking digital audience development project in Plymouth, Torbay and Cornwall in 2014
  • The Orchestra wins the ‘Audiences and Engagement’ Award for the third time in six years

The Philharmonia Orchestra’s iOrchestra project (www.iorchestra.co.uk) has been announced as winner in the ‘Audiences and Engagement’ category at the Royal Philharmonic Society Awards (http://rpsmusicawards.com/index/winners). The presentation in London yesterday recognised outstanding achievement in live classical music in 2014.

It is the third time in six years that the Philharmonia has won this award, emphatically consolidating the Orchestra’s position as sector leader in using the latest digital technologies to reach new audiences in innovative and engaging ways.

Judges of the award cited the project, which has also just won a Music Teacher magazine Award for Excellence 2015 in the Best Musical Initiative category: "For its impressive range of partnerships; for its innovative marketing; - for embedding itself in local communities in Devon and Cornwall, leaving them enriched through increased skills and connections; for interweaving outstanding live performances with online and installations; and for this organisation's ability to reinvent and evolve, the RPS Audiences and Engagement award for 2015 goes to the Philharmonia's iOrchestra project".

James Williams, Project Director for iOrchestra at the Philharmonia Orchestra, commented: “We are absolutely delighted that iOrchestra has been recognised by the Royal Philharmonic Society and we proudly accept this award on behalf of all the wonderful local partner organisations and individuals we have worked with across the South West. iOrchestra has renewed our belief that by removing traditional barriers associated with our artform and presenting it in a fresh and innovative way, that orchestral music has the power to move and inspire people from all backgrounds and that orchestral music can provide a cultural catalyst for change within communities.”

About iOrchestra

iOrchestra is a pioneering, two-year music education and audience development project designed to use the Philharmonia’s expertise in interactive digital installations and technologies to ignite enthusiasm and participation in classical music among new audiences. Based in three regions in the South West – Plymouth, Torbay and Cornwall – iOrchestra reached more than 45,000 local schoolchildren, community groups and adults in its first 13 weeks of activity between April and July 2014, almost 200% of its original target. iOrchestra has been funded as part of Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring Programme and other project supporters include Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, David and Elaine Potter Foundation and Garfield Weston Foundation.

In its first year, iOrchestra focused on three core project strands, the largest of which was the Philharmonia’s award-winning immersive digital “virtual orchestra” installation called RE-RITE. Based on Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, RE-RITE is an extraordinary free digital installation which gives the visitor the chance to walk through a full symphony orchestra conducted by the Philharmonia’s Principal Conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen. Sited at city centre locations in Plymouth, Truro and Torbay, almost 30,000 people, including more than 3,500 children in school groups, visited RE-RITE in just six weeks.

“Go if you want to engage in something that is unusual to experience so closely. Don’t think you can’t afford it or that it’s just for posh people.” 
Carola Buhse

“Wow, how fantastic and exciting we found RE-RITE to be. The children really enjoyed their time in the tent - I loved watching their faces light up as they walked through. They especially liked conducting in the coat and tails whilst seeing themselves on screen. It really did blow us all away.”
Torbay primary school teacher

The other elements of the project focused on offering a hands-on digital music experience for less socially mobile communities, and on encouraging audiences for the digital projects to experience a live symphony orchestra for the first time. MusicLab, a new mobile education installation housed in a purpose-built trailer, brought interactive digital music activities directly to 13 local communities around the three locations, welcoming school groups, community groups and local residents. More than 3,000 schoolchildren and more than 6,500 visitors in total explored MusicLab between April and July. MusicLab has subsequently toured to Cambridge and the Isle of Man engaging with a range of different communities before returning again to the South West in 2015.

RE-RITE’s two week residency in each location culminated with a free, open-air, live orchestral concert by the Philharmonia Orchestra, which was attended by more than 6,500 people, with separate schools performances taking place the following day. And a number of local community projects also took place, inspired by and in partnership with iOrchestra, including a dance project with Attik Dance in Plymouth, a literacy project for pre-school children and parents with the Library Services in Plymouth and Torbay, and performances by local young musicians on the main live concert stage in Truro.

Since the completion of iOrchestra’s first year of core activity in July 2014, work has continued in maintaining and developing the relationships established with participants, communities and groups involved in the project, through satellite projects promoted via a smartcard-based “MyOrchestra” scheme, through social media and by working directly within the target communities to develop new strands of activity for the second year of the iOrchestra project, which began in earnest in mid-April and continues until mid-July. Full information about Universe of Sound (this year’s major installation), MusicLab, live concerts and a large programme of fringe and community based activities can be found at www.iorchestra.co.uk.