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Wednesday 4 Oct 2017

'Beethoven’s Fifth' wins Raindance Award for 'Best Music VR Experience’ & is released on Google Daydream

The Philharmonia Orchestra has cemented its status in the orchestral world as an innovator in virtual reality with a major award, new platform release and new filming project.

On Friday 29 September, the Orchestra’s Principal Conductor & Artistic Advisor, Esa-Pekka Salonen, accepted the Raindance Film Festival Award for ‘Best Music VR Experience’ at a ceremony in London. This is the first year that the renowned Raindance Film Festival has given awards for VR film-making.

The Award was given for Beethoven’s Fifth, created in partnership with NASA and Google and directed by leading VR director Jessica Brillhart. The film, which is available on YouTube, celebrates the ‘Golden Record’ sent into space on Voyager 1, on the fortieth anniversary of its launch. Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony was one of the pieces on the ‘Golden Record’ and the recording sent into space was of the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Otto Klemperer.

On 5 October, the Philharmonia will release Beethoven’s Fifth, for free, on Daydream, Google’s new VR platform, which runs on Android and was launched last year alongside Google’s first phone, the Pixel. It is recognised as a major step towards a unified VR platform, countering the current fragmented distribution network for VR experiences. Daydream is now being rolled out to several new Android phones to operate with the Daydream View VR headset (available for £69), and will soon be compatible with all Samsung Gear VR headsets.

Luke Ritchie, Head of Digital Innovation and Partnerships at the Philharmonia Orchestra, said: “We’re delighted to have been part of this amazing project led by Jessica Brillhart, and it’s a huge boost for the film to be recognised by Raindance. It also confirms our conviction that VR is an incredibly exciting medium for classical music, and we intend to remain at the forefront of this emerging art-form.”

VR Director Jessica Brillhart said: “This piece is about the impact and importance of music. It serves as both an agent to engage us with our world but also holds the power to propel us mentally and seemingly physically to other ones. I can only hope that our efforts keeps true to the original message in 1977 and what the Golden Record continues to represent — how we, a humble species on a distant world, regardless of our abilities or disabilities, can be held together as one through the infinite power of music.”

On 1 October, the Philharmonia began its third Virtual Reality project. As part of a commission by The Space, which included a 2D live stream to a global audience, the Orchestra’s performance of Mahler’s Third Symphony – conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen – was captured in by multiple VR cameras. The final movement of the Symphony will be released in VR on YouTube360 in November 2017.

The first VR film from the Philharmonia, The Virtual Orchestra, was shot in 3D video and audio at London’s Royal Festival Hall in partnership with Southbank Centre and tech company Inition. It was premiered in an installation at the venue in September 2016 and is now available on the PlayStation VR platform.