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Virtual Concerts in the Park

Time was when orchestras and ensembles wanted to reach out to new audiences, they took their instruments out to the park and shopping malls where teens and young families tended to gather. In today’s world, increasingly, people are meeting online. Some intrepid, tech-savvy musicians and ensembles are out there in the virtual community, presenting virtual concerts in the new virtual park. Who are they? What are their experiences and what are the lessons we can learn?

Pictured above is a “live” concert by British community orchestra Sinfonia Leeds presented February 2008 in the virtual world of Second Life. The concert appeared in virtual reality within an open-learning community Cedar Island, where I reside in my Second Life identity as Kate Miranda. This was one of only three full symphony concerts ever presented within virtual reality, and the most successful by all accounts. Others spent many thousands of dollars on consultants and equipment, and yet realized only part of their goals. Sinfonia Leeds only costs were one-time broadcast rights of their selected repertoire (about $300.) and about $100 in incidentals, yet they realized all their goals. The Sinfonia Leeds effort in virtual reality was a result of a collaboration between one orchestra musician who was knowledgeable in virtual reality and my own project and project partners. Between us we were able to access all the resources we needed through a growing community of Second Life classical musicians, artists and artisans.

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