Los Angeles Philharmonic’s virtual-reality van zooms in on Beethoven

Posted on: September 9, 2015

“Fifty-five seconds into Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, the French horns call out from the lilt of the orchestra with three quick high notes and three longer lower ones,” writes Jessi Hempel in the September issue of Wired magazine. “The moment is drama. Tension. Crescendo. And I am sitting in the middle of it. I can see Los Angeles Philharmonic conductor Gustavo Dudamel’s slightly closed eyes as he leans forward to signal the horns. Thanks to the Samsung Gear VR headset I’m wearing using Oculus technology, I’m so close to the concertmaster, I could reach out to shake his hand. This is the demo for the orchestra’s new digital initiative…. Starting September 11, you can have this experience, too. A bright yellow van—aptly named VAN Beethoven—will make a five-week tour through greater Los Angeles, stopping to treat locals to this very private concert I’m enjoying.…. Many of the people who catch this tour will not be frequent visitors to Walt Disney Concert Hall,” says Amy Seidenwurm, the orchestra’s director of digital initiatives. “Her goal is to bring the symphony hall to its audience. Says Seidenwurm, ‘We’re an organization dedicated to the art form—we need people to know that they like it.’ ”

Posted September 9, 2015

Pictured: Gustavo Dudamel leads the Los Angeles Philharmonic, as seen via the new VAN Beethoven virtual-reality digital initiative.