The world-famous Philharmonia Orchestra returns to Basingstoke this July and August with The Virtual Orchestra, a free experience for all the family that gives everyone the opportunity to experience a symphony orchestra from the inside. Part of The Anvil’s 25th Anniversary Programme, the project, open in the upper level of Festival Place, houses an ambitious 10-room digital installation that showcases the internal workings of the Philharmonia as the orchestra performs Holst’s The Planets. A few units along, virtual reality headsets transport you to a concert hall stage where you can see and hear the orchestra up close in 360-degree virtual reality.

More details:

Free five-week digital installation in the upper level of Festival Place, Basingstoke, RG21 7BA: Saturday 6 July – Sunday 11 August 2019

The opportunity to play along with the Philharmonia’s percussion section, use the Orchestra’s virtual reality headsets and join a guided tour of the installation led by music specialists, all for free

Schools, community group and family workshops to bring thousands of people of all ages into contact with orchestral music

The Virtual Orchestra has had 45,000 interactions in previous locations to date

A busy fringe programme with activities ranging from street theatre to spoken word poetry produced by local groups and artists responding to The Virtual Orchestra

The Virtual Orchestra culminates with two free, live orchestral concerts in Porchester Square in the heart of Festival Place on Sunday 4 August

The project is run in addition to the Philharmonia’s long-standing regular concerts at The Anvil, where it is Orchestra in Partnership

The Virtual Orchestra is a new flagship audience development project that aims to broaden and deepen engagement with orchestral music. The concept at the heart of this ambitious project is to engage people through digital experiences – and associated outreach programme and live performances – outside of the concert hall in public spaces and in the local community, all in partnership with local arts organisations and charities. This major project is generously supported by Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Paul Hamlyn Foundation and John Ellerman Foundation.

Basingstoke forms the final stage of the project, which has previously travelled to the Philharmonia’s residency cities of Bedford, Leicester and Canterbury. To date, The Virtual Orchestra has had over 45,000 interactions. In Basingstoke, the experience is being delivered together with the principal partners Festival Place, one of the UK’s leading retail destinations, and The Anvil, where the Philharmonia has been Orchestra in Partnership since 2000.

The Virtual Orchestra installation takes place on the upper level of Festival Place in Basingstoke city centre from Saturday 6 July – Sunday 11 August 2019, and is open seven days a week including the summer holidays. Around this central hub of activity, the orchestra delivers a series of schools, family and community workshops with fun hands-on activities for all ages. A fringe programme delivered by local groups including Blue Apple Theatre, Scratchbuilt Productions, Top of the Town Studios and Gallery, and the Philharmonia Orchestra hosts activities across Basingstoke such as story time, arts and crafts, and live music, with themes related to Holst’s The Planets.

Philharmonia Orchestra: Live! is a free, family-friendly live concert (Sunday 4 August at 2pm & 3.30pm, Porchester Square in Festival Place) conceived for audiences who have experienced The Virtual Orchestra. The concerts will be short, friendly and informal, and presented by a specialist to guide you through the music, appearing on stage alongside critically acclaimed international conductor Holly Mathieson.

Jonathan Mayes, the Philharmonia’s Director of Residencies and Regional Programme, said: “We are delighted to bring The Virtual Orchestra to Basingstoke having spent the last 18 months developing the project with Basingstoke Together, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, local arts organisations and our principal partners, Festival Place and Anvil Arts. The audience development work at the heart of The Virtual Orchestra is central to our UK residencies programme, and this project will see thousands of people interacting with cultural activities in an entirely new way. For many people, this will be the first time that they experience orchestral music and we have already found that the digital platform for this exposure can be overwhelmingly powerful. We look forward to welcoming Basingstoke to The Virtual Orchestra this summer!”

Visiting The Virtual Orchestra installation in Festival Place is free with no ticket or pre-booking required. For further details about booking workshops and concert tickets, and opening and performance times, visit

Supported using public funding by Arts Council England


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