August 2009: RE-RITE Be the Orchestra

One of the most complex recording sessions ever held is taking place next week to create a unique installation which will revolutionise the way the public access and experience orchestral music.

On September 1st at Watford Colosseum, 28 high-definition cameras requiring over 5 kilometres of cable will record a performance of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring by 101 players from the Philharmonia Orchestra from every possible angle – including four cameras attached to players’ heads. The performance will be conducted by the Orchestra’s Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor, Esa-Pekka Salonen.

The unique recording is being staged to create the first ever orchestral digital residency enabling the audience to conduct, play and step inside an orchestra when it arrives in a warehouse on London’s South Bank at the beginning of November.

re-RITE Be the Orchestra, which opens to the public at the Bargehouse on London’s South Bank on Tuesday 3rd November, will show every section of the orchestra performing Rite of Spring simultaneously ‘as live’ throughout a four-storey warehouse building. The public will able to sit amongst the horn players, perform in the percussion section and take up the baton and control sections of the orchestra as they play.

The ambitious project, made possible through the support of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, is the brainchild of the Philharmonia’s Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor Esa-Pekka Salonen, who has developed the concept with the Philharmonia Orchestra’s Digital Department. Esa-Pekka Salonen commented:

“This project is quite simply ground-breaking. I’ve always been interested in how to combine technology with the kind of music we play, and how to make this collaboration organic rather than something that is just added on. Being inside an orchestra, experiencing the sensation of 101 players taking on this iconic music is one of the biggest adrenalin rushes, and one that I want to share with the world. Now we’re doing just that.”

Richard Slaney, the Philharmonia Orchestra’s Head of Digital commented:

“This is technically the most challenging project we have ever undertaken. The logistics of a 28-camera shoot are phenomenally complex, even before you add in 100+ musicians. To me an orchestra is like an incredibly sophisticated piece of technology; our job is to use the latest cameras and projection equipment to allow our audiences to explore it from the inside out.”