ACO and JCU bring virtual orchestra to eMerge

By Alex Rosano

The Australian Chamber Orchestra (ACO), are performing at the James Cook University eMerge gallery in the College of Arts, Society and Education via a virtual presence. As you enter the gallery you are surrounded by speakers and projections of up to 13 musicians playing music by Bach, Grieg, Smalley and Piazzolla. In the centre of the room is a touchpad controller where you can select one or more musicians and listen to your favourite instrument or surround yourself with a full performance of the orchestra. Using cutting edge technology the sound of each musician comes from their respective projection.

The technology provides every person with the opportunity to experience and control a live orchestra in real time. The virtual orchestra is both educational and playful. Even non musicians can conduct the “the greatest chamber orchestra on earth” from a simple touch pad, controlling everything they see and hear. The interactive features of the virtual installation also provide a unique way for people to deconstruct an orchestra. Visitors can listen to the sounds of individual instruments, see how the musicians fingers move and how each instrument adds to the sound of the orchestra.

The only downside to this immersive musical and visual experience is that only one person at a time can control the installation.

Musicians can play along with the orchestra, follow the conductor’s tempo and respond to a variety of expressive musical nuances. The ACO performance lasts around 30 minutes featuring Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No.3 in G:1st movement, Piazzolla’s Oblivian, an excerpt from Roger Smalley’s Strung Out and Greig’s String Quartet in G minor: 1st movement arranged by  Richard Tognetti the Orchestra’s conductor and Artistic Director.

Photo Credit: Jack Saltmiras
The orchestra is populated by the innovative technology with real people who regularly perform in the AOC and they seem to embrace the viewer in a panorama of human experience. It is a virtuoso performance for lovers of chamber and classical music.

The Virtual Australian Chamber Orchestra plays at the eMerge Gallery, James CookUniversity from 2 August to 30 August 2014.