Today, The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) and Google Arts & Culture are unveiling a new project to bring some of the RPO’s exclusive content online.

As an orchestra that has been at the forefront of music-making in the UK for the last seven decades, the public will have the chance to experience the music from an unparalleled viewpoint, seated amongst the players in virtual reality. Visitors to the Google Arts & Culture website will be able to delve into the RPO and its music, experiencing stories from the musicians themselves. Coinciding with the launch of the new 2018/19 RPO season, the site will host a number of exclusive interviews and features, as well as performance highlights from the RPO. Particularly of note is the online premiere of an excerpt from Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra. Filmed in 360-degree virtual reality (VR), the video will enable viewers with VR headsets to fully immerse themselves inside the RPO and all it has to offer.

The new platform will also showcase the RPO’s pioneering community and educational work programme, RPO Resound, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.

The move comes at a time when orchestral music is showing signs of a popular resurgence in the UK. Recent YouGov research reported that 65% of British adults said they enjoyed listening to orchestral music at some point during their typical week – and the classical genre (22%) has overtaken rock (21%) and jazz (17%) as the music people say they would most like to learn more about.

This exciting partnership between Google Arts & Culture and the RPO, as one of the world’s most respected orchestras, is an opportunity to introduce orchestral music to new and wider audiences through a hub of digitised culture. This forms part of the RPO’s strategy to modernise classical music, to broaden its appeal, and to give the genre a stronger footing in the digital world – building on the 21 million online audio downloads of RPO recordings last year.

James Williams, Managing Director of the RPO commented: “The RPO’s new partnership with Google Arts & Culture is an important step forward in its mission to democratise orchestral music and to increase its accessibility using the latest digital technologies and online platforms.

Whilst being able to share the visceral experience of hearing an orchestra live in concert with an extensive audience remains at the core of the RPO’s work, nowadays more and more people are engaging with orchestral music through online platforms and portable devices. For many, this represents the start of a journey of discovery; an opportunity to deepen people’s knowledge and engagement with orchestral music.

“The RPO is proud to join other esteemed arts organisations from around the world on the Google Arts & Culture platform and has ambitious plans to build upon this partnership by creating new and exclusive content with its newly announced Music Director, Vasily Petrenko.

“Our partnership with Google Arts & Culture represents the coming together of two international, world-class brands to present orchestral music to a broader audience and we have exciting plans to phase in a programme of exclusive content that will we hope will become the benchmark catalogue of orchestral music and insights on the dynamic Google platform.”

Suhair Khan, Program Manager of Google Arts & Culture adds: “We are so pleased to be partnering with the RPO, an iconic British cultural organisation, to bring its story online to new audiences. In particular, the wonderful orchestral VR piece, which will enable both long term supporters and new fans of the orchestra to engage with this music in a fun way. Classical music has always had the ability to captivate and mesmerise audiences and it’s brilliant to see it being recontextualised in an interactive and immersive format to appeal to digital society. We’re proud to have been able to support the RPO with the power of our technologies creating an accessible and fascinating journey online for audiences all over the world."


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