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MAJOR CHORDS | Exploring An Immersive Future In Classical Music

July 09, 2019 / Anya Wassenberg

Old and new meet when classical music and virtual reality come together in performance. Technology is often touted as the long-awaited saviour of the classical music scene. With virtual reality, it opens up entirely new ways of thinking about — and experiencing — performance.Dutch composer Michel van der Aa recently premiered his mixed reality opera Eight in Amsterdam, followed by a run of performances at the Aix Festival in France in July 2019. It’s being touted as a “breakthrough” work that integrates technology and music in new ways, while eschewing peripheral gimmicks designed only to impress.“We’re surrounded by electronics and multimedia technology,” Van der Aa told The New York Times. “So it would feel artificial to not allow that on an opera stage.” The story focuses on an old woman who looks back on her life, sung by singer-songwriter Kate Miller-Heidke. Audience members wear a virtual reality (VR) headset, and follow...