May 2015: RPS Awards Release


  • 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 ( has been announced as winner in the ‘Audiences and Engagement’ category at the Royal Philharmonic Society Awards ( 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 across arts and non-arts organisations; for its innovative marketing, including an emphasis on repeat visits; 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 installation experiences; and for this organisation’s ability to reinvent and evolve to build on existing excellent work.”

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 preschool 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


For further information, interviews, biographies and photographs, please contact Isla MacLeod ([email protected]; direct line +44 20 7921 3933) or Tim Woodall at the Philharmonia Orchestra ([email protected]; direct line + 44 7990 929 627).


The Philharmonia Orchestra is one of the world’s great orchestras. Acknowledged as the UK’s foremost musical pioneer, with an extraordinary recording legacy, the Philharmonia leads the field for its quality of playing, and for its innovative approach to audience development, residencies, music education and the use of new technologies in reaching a global audience. Together with its relationships with the world’s most sought-after artists, most importantly its Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor Esa-Pekka Salonen, the Philharmonia Orchestra is at the heart of British musical life.

Today, the Philharmonia has the greatest claim of any orchestra to be the UK’s National Orchestra. It is committed to presenting the same quality, live music-making in venues throughout the country as it brings to London and the great concert halls of the world. In 2015/16 the Orchestra is performing more than 150 concerts, as well as presenting live digital events and recording scores for films, CDs and computer games. Since 1995 the Orchestra has been Resident at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall and Bedford Corn Exchange, and also has long-term UK residencies in Leicester, Basingstoke, Canterbury and at the Three Choirs Festival.

Box office information for all Philharmonia Orchestra performances at Southbank Centre:
Philharmonia Orchestra Box Office: Freephone 0800 652 6717 or
Southbank Centre Box Office: 0844 847 9921 or

Composer and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen has been Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the Philharmonia Orchestra since September 2008, continuing a relationship that dates back almost 30 years. His tenure has been dominated by landmark multi-disciplinary festivals, exploring the music of key 20th-century composers and musical movements in their widest possible cultural, social and historical context. Salonen’s dedication to technology, digital platforms and outreach has been realised through his work with the Philharmonia Orchestra on both the digital installations at the heart of iOrchestra.

The RPS Music Awards acknowledge excellence in live classical music-making in the United Kingdom, reflecting the Royal Philharmonic Society’s guiding principles of ‘excellence’, ‘creativity’ and ‘understanding’. These independent awards were set up in 1989 to celebrate the outstanding musical achievements of both young and established, British and International, musicians. Each Award is decided by an eminent jury from the music profession. The list of winners since 1989 reads as a roll call of the finest living musicians. The awards honour a broad sweep of live music making including  categories for performers, composers, inspirational arts organisations, learning, participation and engagement. There is no restriction on the nationality of recipients, but the awards are for achievements within the United Kingdom. The RPS Music Awards are presented each May at a dinner by a musician of international renown.