Re-Rite - Be the Orchestra

A unique project undertaken by the Philharmonia Orchestra allows members of the public to conduct, play with and step inside the Orchestra through digital projections of the musicians. Conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen and Classic FM’s partner the Philharmonia have recorded audio and visual footage of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring.

The project, which runs from 3 to 15 November at the Bargehouse on London’s South Bank, shows each section of the Orchestra performing The Rite of Spring simultaneously ‘as live’ throughout the four-storey warehouse building.

The different instrumental sections are spread out across the warehouse, so that when you enter a room you can see and hear one particular section. Chairs and music-stands holding instrument parts have been placed in front of each screen so that you can follow the music as you watch the players.  Rehearsal marks flash up on the screen so that you can join in at any point, moving from section to section.

Re-Rite’s exhibition at an unconventional classical music venue should attract those who might not attend a traditional classical concert, as well as seasoned concert goers who want to experience the excitement of sitting among 100 musicians playing an iconic orchestral work. As well as a projection of the whole section, each room also has a screen that focuses on one player.  Some players had cameras strapped to their heads to give viewers an insight into performance.

The project allows members of the public to perform in the percussion section and take up the baton to conduct, as well as learn more about the composition of The Rite of Spring through the players' commentaries, which can be heard through headphones.  One room has a large screen showing simultaneously the full orchestra and the individual sections.  Interactive screens allow you to alter the volume of each section and choose which section appears in the centre of the screen.

The project is attracting a range of people - from school groups to tourists to classical music enthusiasts.  Karen Stephenson, principal cellist of the Philharmonia, has spent a couple of hours showing her parents around.  She comments on the fact that the films show the whole performance, not just when the musicians are playing - you see them getting their instruments ready and preparing for solos.  Stephenson says 'You could literally stay in one room and watch one player.'  Her father is amazed at the perspiration on the players' faces.

Re-Rite is open daily from 3 to 15 November, 10am to 6pm, with late opening until 8pm on Thursday and Friday.
Admission is free. The Bargehouse is located in the heart of London’s South Bank and Bankside areas.

Philharmonia Orchestra Associate Animateur Luke Crookes will be conducting guided tours of Re-Rite for families each weekend morning from 11am.  These are free but ticketed.  Call 0800 652 6717 to reserve your place.