Virtual concert set to transform performance possibility

Friday, 19 July 2019

The University of Newcastle will host Newcastle’s first ever virtual concert this week, as students test the boundaries of immersive performance.

Students rehearse ahead of Newcastle's first ever VR concert

As part of a school holiday workshop hosted by the University’s School of Creative Industries, students in years five to eight will rehearse an original song over two days ahead of the final, ground-breaking virtual reality (VR) performance on Friday.

Students will perform in a gathering, with the piece captured by a 360-degree camera set up in the centre of the group. Friends and family will be able to experience the concert through VR headsets, which will replicate being in the middle of the performance for an immersive viewing experience.

Associate Lecturer and Conservatorium Coordinator, Mr Adam Manning, said the concept was an exploration of digital performance – one that could transform the way we experience live music in the future.

“As a society, we’re becoming more and more immersed in virtual platforms, so the act of viewing is evolving,” Mr Manning said.

“Performance continues to change, and digital audiences now have the scope to create their own market.

“Our work in this space is a genuine attempt to construct a piece of music which caters for virtual and digital viewers, taking into consideration that we’re building a new strategy for an online audience whilst implementing traditional techniques.”

This is the first time a concert of this kind has been held in Newcastle and is a first-of-its-kind for a Conservatorium in New South Wales. The work will contribute to research building a basic benchmark so VR concerts can become a standardised offering and attract global audiences.

Head of the University’s School of Creative Industries, Professor Paul Egglestone, said the Newcastle Conservatorium was breaking new ground by embracing digital technologies.

“Traditional performance will always be relevant because of the raw emotion and sense of community that comes with seeing a band or a show with other fans. But, this kind of new experience offers us a way to connect with a whole new audience in a totally immersive way,” Professor Egglestone said.

“The Newcastle Conservatorium is solidifying its place as a leader in music performance as creative industries provide us new opportunities to explore digital engagement.”

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