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Worldwide technophiles make beautiful music


See also...
-Media Services
External Sites:
-Philharmonia Orchestra
(Imperial College is not responsible for the content of these external internet sites)

By Abigail Smith
Tuesday 18 October 2005

Music lovers around the world were brought together by the magic of technology last week when the Philharmonia Orchestra held their thrice-yearly Composer Resource session at Imperial's TV Studio in South Kensington.

Composer Resource aims to develop the music writing skills of composers of any age and ability by using live webcasts to let them to work on their compositions with members of the orchestra.

Members of the Philharmonia Orchestra try out new compositions in Imperial's TV Studio

Participants gain new insights into their 'works in progress' as they find out what they sound like when played by a five piece orchestra, according to Rachel Selvidge, the Philharmonias head of community and education.

"Composers can get an idea if their material is working and use feedback from the players and other participants to adapt it or take it in directions they may never have thought of before," she explains. "Its a very supportive and interactive way of learning, and also quite a treat to work so closely with a world class orchestra."

The live online broadcast means the musicians can talk directly to composers through the camera, backed up by a live chat facility for discussion of the pieces, which they can see on a screen in the studio. Feedback from the session, such as advice on how different instruments work together and the technicalities of music notation, allow composers to find solutions to difficulties that may have eluded them when working alone.

Participants receive live feedback on their compositions

The session was run by Colin Grimshaw and Martin Sayers of Imperial's Media Services team. Colin comments: "It's quite daunting when you realise that these webcasts are being watched in countries round the world but it went off without a hitch, I'm pleased to report. It was a lot of fun to watch the ideas bouncing back and forth between musicians and writers."

The Media Services division offers a variety of video production, conferencing and web streaming services for internal and external audiences, with recent clients including Nikki Gavron, the Deputy Mayor of London, who conducted a conference from the studio linked to 120 other locations. The team's next major job is recording the College's Commemoration Day on 26 October in the Royal Albert Hall. Of this, Colin says:

"The whole audience will be able to see what we are doing on a 20 foot screen hung high above the stage. The end result will then be available on DVD as a momento for graduates and proud parents."

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