The Anatomy of the Orchestra: A VR Experience

Presented by Colston Hall and The Paraorchestra & Friends

  • Venue:

  • Times:

    15:00, 15:30, 16:00, 16:30, 17:00, 17:30, 18:00, 18:30
  • Dates:

  • Price:

    Free, tickets must be booked in advance

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The orchestra is a thing of wonder. It is also, invariably, a thing of mystery.

To experience the magic of the orchestra is to experience the astonishing synthesis of sounds, textures, melodies and harmonies that come from numerous musicians performing in sync; creating a unified whole from many parts, a kind of perfect homogeneity and mix. How does this happen?

Award-winning conductor Charles Hazlewood addresses this question by exploding the orchestra across all four levels of the iconic foyer of Bristol’s Colston Hall.

Presented by The Paraorchestra and Friends as part of the Bristol New Music biennial in April 2018, The Anatomy of The Orchestra saw a live orchestra perform like never before. A total of 51 musicians, drawn from Army of Generals and The British Paraorchestra, spread through the atrium to play The Four Sections, a rare work for symphony orchestra by the highly influential American composer Steve Reich.

An audience of over 1200 people moved in and amongst this giant sonic installation, experiencing their own shifting mix as they walked. The Anatomy is an unprecedented ‘access all areas’ orchestral invitation.

The rehearsal for this unique performance was captured as a 360 degree film with cutting edge 3D spatial sound recording, turning the visceral performance into an immersive Virtual Reality experience.

We now invite you to dive into the orchestra’s extraordinary world and sense its inner workings in the setting of the original performance. Book for a preview session of this Virtual Reality experience.

There will be an optional discussion taking place after each session so you can tell us how it was for you and the opportunity to meet members of the team involved in its production.

How to book a VR session

Tickets to the VR Sessions are free, but must be booked in advance.

Places are limited (only five per session) and each session has to start exactly on time so please arrive at Colston Hall Foyer at least 10 minutes prior to your scheduled experience start time.

Late arrival may result in us giving your space to someone else.

Recommended age: VR headsets are recommended for those aged 13 years and over. Under 18s should be supervised while using the device


The Anatomy of the Orchestra was commissioned by Colston Hall as part of Bristol New Music 2018 and performed by members of Army of Generals and The British Paraorchestra, conducted by Charles Hazlewood. The Anatomy of the Orchestra was produced by The Paraorchestra and Friends and performed on Saturday 21 April at 2.30pm and 5pm,

The Anatomy of the Orchestra: A VR Experience was commissioned by Colston Hall and The Paraorchestra & Friends, and created by the UWE Music Technology department and the Impulse Innovation & Enterprise Studio from the University of the West of England.

Bristol New Music is a consortium of five key organisations in Bristol (Colston Hall, Arnolfini, Spike Island, St George’s Bristol and the University of Bristol) dedicated to bringing the very best international new music to the city, while working to create opportunities for emerging regional artists.

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