For those who don't know, Universe of Sound is an installation inviting people to 'step inside the orchestra' and become a part of it rather than just being the audience. Conceived by the Philharmonia Orchestra, Universe of Sound takes you out of this world using Gustav Holst's The Planets. Even if you don't know the whole piece you will recognise 'Jupiter' from a variety of places and you will no doubt know the rest of the work by the end of the installation! In addition to this there is also a wonderful new piece by contemporary composer Joby Talbot which fits perfectly.
I've been lucky enough to experience Universe of Sound before as I visited the original installation at the Science Museum in London which I loved so naturally I was excited when THSH Birmingham announced they would be housing it for a while, not least that it would be a significant distance closer! I think it also helps that I love both the Town Hall and Symphony Hall separately anyway, aside from the fact that I was that enamoured with Universe of Sound the first time that I had to tell everyone about it.
But what exactly IS Universe of Sound, I hear you ask.
Well, without going into too much detail (I don't want to ruin the fun) you can join each section of the orchestra, follow the music and join in if you want (you're encouraged to take your instruments along and play if you want - I think I still need a little more persuading before I do this!) or you can just sit and listen. Universe of Sound lets you become part of the orchestra in a way that you're happy with.
In addition to this you can also try your hand at conducting in one of the conductor pods found at Universe of Sound and Symphony Hall - it's harder than it looks but I can now honestly say that I have conducted the Philharmonia playing The Planets at Symphony Hall. Pretty cool, eh?
I can't wait to go back to Universe of Sound and maybe when I do I'll do a proper comparison of the two installations I've experienced, complete with pictures - it would be wrong to share my favourite sections with you just yet!
The universe is waiting.
When are you going?
Universe of Sound is at the Municipal Bank, Broad Street, Birmingham. 25th May - 16th June, 11am - 6.30pm. Free entrance.