The Virtual Orchestra

Our flagship audience development project reached over 40,000 people in 2018-19.

Two young women wearing sporty clothing listen to installation at The Virtual Orchestra

The Virtual Orchestra is a four-year, digital-led audience development project from the Philharmonia Orchestra. In 2018 and 2019, The Virtual Orchestra travelled to our UK residencies, spending six weeks in each location.

Immersive installations, virtual reality, intensive outreach work and concerts in each location brought orchestral music to new audiences in Bedford, Leicester, Canterbury and Basingstoke.

“An invaluable way to inspire musicians”

“Thank you for the wonderful experience you have given us. It was fantastic and took us to another world!”


The Virtual Orchestra 2018-19

Watch interviews with audiences at The Virtual Orchestra

About the project

The Virtual Orchestra offered attendees the chance to explore a symphony orchestra from the inside. A 10-room immersive installation showed the internal workings of the Philharmonia as the players performed Holst’s The Planets. Alongside the installation, we showcased our award- winning virtual reality experience that places audience members on stage with the Orchestra in a 360-degree binaural experience.

The Virtual Orchestra travelled to Bedford (summer 2018), Leicester (autumn 2018), Canterbury (spring 2019), and Basingstoke (summer 2019), and reached over 40,000 people. We collaborated with partners in each location to reach new audiences and engage a wide range of communities in the arts. We offered school, family and community music workshops, free guided tours, free recitals, full-scale orchestral concerts, Fringe projects and performances from local residents. We took our virtual reality experience into new realms for the orchestra, including prisons and hospices.

We collaborated with a wide range of partners including arts organisations, charities, councils, social services, refugee centres, youth offending teams, domestic abuse services, Business Improvement Districts, hospices, prisons and more.

The project aimed to reduce barriers to accessing orchestral events, diversify the Orchestra’s audiences in each residency, and increase our networks and partnerships in each location. The legacy of the project continues to develop in our ever-growing range of projects working with local communities, more diverse audiences for our residency concerts, and new partnerships.


The Virtual Orchestra in Bedford

An introduction to the installation


The Virtual Orchestra is supported by:

Esmee Fairbairn Foundation logo
Paul Hamlyn Foundation logo
John Ellerman Foundation logo