Exhibition Review: Universe Of Sound @ Science Museum

Filming for Universe of Sound. (c) B Ealovega.

The Science Museum and the Philharmonia Orchestra are two organisations you wouldn’t normally associate with each other. Yet they have combined forces to launch an interactive exhibition that is both visually and aurally arresting.

The show revolves around the Planets Suite by Gustav Holst. The aim of the exhibition is to make classical music accessible, so it’s a wise choice that most people will recognise.

There are sections of the exhibition dedicated to different sections of the orchestra (eg strings or woodwind), so as you walk around the varying sounds are accentuated. This enables you to grasp how each component plays its part in bringing the orchestral piece to life.

Then comes the fun part. There is a percussion room where you can watch video tutorials to learn how to play the instruments properly. Alternatively, you can ignore this advice and just bash them indiscriminately. You’ll also get the chance to play the conductor via motion tracking cameras that allow you to raise volumes of certain sections of the orchestra with one hand and conduct with the other. A tip from us is to not jump into a piece that’s fast paced as you’ll struggle to keep up and get easily frustrated. But it won’t take you long to get a handle on the slower pieces.

This exhibition is aimed at educating people about orchestra but its greater goal is to bring classical music to a new audience. It does this effectively by using a lot of interactivity and encapsulating you within a soundscape. It’s a unique experience and easily accessible to everyone, whether you’re a fan of classical music or not.

Universe of Sound: The Planets is on display at the Science Museum until 8 July. Admission is free.

To mark the end of the exhibition the Philharmonia Orchestra will be playing a concert of the Planets Suite on 8 July.

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