Universe of Sound





Birmingham’s disused Municipal Bank opens its doors to the public on Saturday (25 May) for the launch of an award-winning digital music installation. Universe of Sound: The Planets, leads to a weekend exploration of music and space (14 & 15 June) presented by Town Hall & Symphony Hall with the Philharmonia Orchestra and features free family activities, film screenings and live performances.

Universe of Sound: The Planets digital installation

Universe of Sound: The Planets is a free, interactive experience in which the world-class Philharmonia Orchestra takes on virtual form. The installation will be open daily between Saturday 25 May and Sunday 16 June 2013 in the disused Birmingham Municipal Bank, Broad Street.

Devised and created by the Philharmonia Orchestra Digital Department and Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor Esa-Pekka Salonen, Universe of Sound: The Planets transports visitors into the very heart of a symphony orchestra. It offers the chance to conduct using creative digital technologies, play live and virtual instruments and learn about the roles of musicians, before a planetarium-style full-dome 360 degree projection delivers the incomparable thrill of seeing and hearing 132 players performing Gustav Holst’s incredible work The Planets, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen.

Each room will contain the sheet music for each instrument, and visitors will be invited to bring their instruments and play along. Philharmonia and locally based musicians will also be present inside the installation, playing along live and answering questions.

The creation of this hi-definition interactive immersive experience involved what is believed to be the largest classical music film shoot ever undertaken, and the work recently won a 2013 Royal Philharmonic Society Award for Audiences and Engagement. More than 67,000 people visited the work at the Science Museum, London in 2012.

Universe of Sound weekend featuring free family activities, film screenings and live performances

On Friday 14 June, Universe of Sound‘s final weekend commences with a 7pm screening of Stanley Kubrick’s classic science-fiction movie 2001: A Space Odyssey at Symphony Hall, to a live soundtrack by the Philharmonia and Birmingham’s Ex Cathedra choir, conducted by Benjamin Wallfisch. Majestic, unconventional and instantly recognisable pieces of music feature in the 1968 film, which is now acknowledged as one of the greatest and most influential films of all time. A late night performance follows of Earthrise, Alec Roth’s 2010 choral masterpiece based on the view of Earth by Apollo 8 astronauts whilst in orbit, given by Ex Cathedra in Symphony Hall from 10pm.

The family friendly space of Symphony Hall Café Bar will be the base for Universe of Sound Family Day a day of free activities, workshops and demonstrations on Saturday 15 June (10.30am-4.30pm), featuring musicians helping families to explore the orchestra, solar system mobiles, demonstrations of music technology, a constellation installation, creative workshops themed music and space plus much more.

Families can also enjoy The Orchestra Dream, a treasure hunt for vinyl graphics of orchestral instruments that will be mounted throughout Symphony Hall’s foyers. Finding each instrument will reveal a phrase, and correct answers will be entered into a competition. Devised by Stan’s Café and THSH Education & Community department, the Orchestra Dream runs from Saturday 25 May – Sunday 16 June (opening times vary). Admission is free.

The Universe of Sound weekend closes with Gustav Holst’s great astrological work The Planets, performed by the Philharmonia Orchestra and ladies of the City of Birmingham Choir conducted by Vladimir Ashkenazy in Symphony Hall, on Saturday 15 June 2013 (7.30pm).

Richard Hawley, Director of Artistic Programming and Projects at Town Hall and Symphony Hall, said, “Working alongside the Philharmonia in delivering such a wonderfully immersive experience in a space as exciting as the old Municipal Bank on Broad Street is a thrilling opportunity. We invite music and science fans, families and the downright curious from across the UK to visit the installation, take part in hands-on activities at our family day and enjoy the rare performance of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey with a live orchestral and choral score, as well as a number of other concerts, all part of a truly exciting project for the city.”

Esa-Pekka Salonen, Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor at the Philharmonia Orchestra, said, “This project offers everyone, from the very young to the very old, from the absolute novice to the experienced musician, the chance to step right into the heart of one of the world’s finest symphony orchestras. Our world is, by turns, preposterously loud, pin-drop quiet, highly-charged, intense and frequently overwhelming. Come and join us – you won’t be disappointed.”

The Universe of Sound digital installation in Birmingham is sponsored by Birmingham City University with support from THSH partner Norland. The performance of 2001: A Space Odyssey is sponsored by Investec Wealth & Investment.

The creation of Universe of Sound was made possible thanks to generous support from Arts Council England, the Eranda Foundation, the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, the Foundation for Sport and the Arts and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. An interactive Blu-Ray and DVD release of the footage and audio has just been released on Signum Records to coincide with the installation.



Notes to editor:

Media opportunities and resources

Selected one-to-one tours of the Universe of Sound installation
Richard Hawley (Director of Artistic Programming and Projects at Town Hall and Symphony Hall)
Richard Slaney (Head of Digital at the Philharmonia Orchestra) and Philharmonia musicians are available for selected interviews
Hi-res images and video clips
Review tickets




Universe of Sound: The Planets digital installation
11am – 6.30pm Saturday 25 May – Sunday 16 June 2013
Birmingham Municipal Bank, Broad Street Birmingham B1 2DR
Free admission

The installation also includes a newly commissioned companion work, Worlds, Stars, Systems, Infinity by Joby Talbot

2001: A Space Odyssey
7pm Friday 14 June 2013
Symphony Hall Birmingham B1 2EA
£9.50 / £15.00 / £20.00 / £25.00 / £30.00*

10pm Friday 14 June 2013
Symphony Hall Birmingham B1 2EA
Free admission for 2001: A Space Odyssey ticket holders

Universe of Sound Family Day
10.30am – 4.30pm, Saturday 15 June 2013
Symphony Hall Café Bar, Birmingham B1 2EA
Free admission

Holst’s The Planets
7.30pm Saturday 15 June 2013
Symphony Hall Birmingham B1 2EA
£9.50 / £17.50 / £25.00 / £30.00 / £35.00 / £40.00 / £50.00*

The Orchestra Dream (treasure hunt)
Saturday 25 May – Sunday 16 June 2013
Symphony Hall foyers, Birmingham B1 2EA
Free admission


Town Hall and Symphony Hall are managed together by Performances Birmingham Limited, a Registered Charity No 1053937. Between them, the two halls present an exciting and varied programme of over 600 concerts and events a year, connecting people of all ages and backgrounds to music from jazz, folk, world, roots and classical, to rock and pop. Over 500,000 people visit Town Hall and Symphony Hall annually, and almost 12,000 young people and 6,000 adults participate in the thriving Education and Community programme.

Supported by Birmingham City Council
Supported using public funding by Arts Council England

Town Hall Birmingham re-opened in October 2007 following a £35m renovation funded by Birmingham City Council (£18.3m), Heritage Lottery Fund (£13.7m), European Regional Development Fund (£3m).

Acknowledged as the UK’s foremost musical pioneer, with an extraordinary recording legacy, the Philharmonia Orchestra leads the field for its quality of playing, and for its innovative approach to audience development, residencies, music education and the use of new technologies – including digital installations such as the multi-award-winning RE-RITE, webcasts, podcasts, downloads and computer games – in reaching a global audience.

Together with its relationships with the world’s most sought-after artists, most importantly its Principal Conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen, the Philharmonia is at the heart of British musical life.

ON-LINEBOOKING www.thsh.co.uk
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Media enquiries
Fiona Fraser / Lyle Bignon / Abi Barrington
Communications Manager / Assistant Communications Manager / Communications Assistant
E fiona.fraser@thsh.co.uk / lyle.bignon@thsh.co.uk / abi.barrington@thsh.co.uk
T 0121 644 5008 / 0121 644 6028 / 0121 644 6078 (Direct)

Issue date
Thursday 23 May 2013