September 22, 2020
Gustavo Dudamel is bringing another cinematic production to life. The LA Phil’s music and artistic director was conducting concerts at the Hollywood Bowl last month, part of the orchestra’s upcoming SOUND/STAGE series. This month, the conductor is launching Symphony, a virtual-reality experience with hundreds of collaborators in the making.
Dudamel, members of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, and young artists from the Gustavo Dudamel Foundation make up the musical half of Symphony. A film crew, led by project director Igor Cortadellas, has been finessing the virtual-reality side of things. The whole production is spearheaded by ”la Caixa” Banking Foundation, headquartered in Spain.
Symphony offers a sort of museum-like, planetarium experience: the project is touring in two connected mobile cinema spaces. The first room screens a film, no virtual reality yet, about the lives of three young musicians. For the second building, visitors don 3D headsets and are zoomed center stage to the Gran Teatre del Liceu; they sit among the orchestra as Dudamel leads excerpts from Mahler, Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, and the “Mambo” from West Side Story. The full thing lasts about half an hour.
For their part, Dudamel and the musicians finished recording in August 2019. The complete experience premiered last week, in a setup outside Barcelona’s CosmoCaixa museum, factoring in new coronavirus health guidelines. The show stays in Barcelona until Oct. 8, then moves on to more cities in Spain and Portugal for what’s scheduled to be a 10-year tour. No promises yet, but thinking that far in advance, more countries and tour stops might be in the project’s future.