Cheltenham Music Festival ...around town 2018

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The Virtual Reality Orchestra is set to return to Cheltenham High Street for two weeks (30 June – 15 July) during Cheltenham Music Festival – this time with a space theme.

With over 2,000 people enjoying the free experience last year, the Virtual Reality Orchestra is back by popular demand –this year with one of classical music’s most famous pieces: Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. On climbing inside the brightly coloured shipping container and donning a headset, the viewer is transported on stage, surrounded by the strings, wind, brass and percussion instrumentalists of the Philharmonia Orchestra and their conductor Esa Pekka Salonen.

This year, the experience is inspired by the 40th anniversary of the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft and the Golden Records they each carried. Intercut into the orchestra’s performance are scenes from interstellar space taken by Google’s VR team in partnership with NASA.

40 years ago, in September 1977, NASA launched Voyager 1 as part of a programme to study the outer Solar System. Still travelling today, Voyager 1 is the farthest man-made object in space. Mounted to the spacecraft is a golden-plated phonograph record. On the record is a suite of images, recorded greetings from earth and 90 minutes of music, including a Philharmonia Orchestra performance of the first movement of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, conducted by Otto Klemperer.

The free Virtual Orchestra is open from 3-6pm Tuesdays to Fridays and 11am to 5pm on Saturdays and Sundays. The experience lasts 8 minutes and is recommended for age 7+.

For one day only on Sunday 8 July, the Rajasthan Heritage Brass Band will be marching through Cheltenham Town Centre ending with a final performance in Imperial Gardens. Catch them between 11am and 12pm and 1.30 – 2.30pm.

With a diverse repertoire spanning Rajasthani folk songs, Bollywood hits, spiritual qawwali, Bhangra beats. sci-fi and intergalactic funk and even some well-loved pop songs, these vividly costumed musicians and dancers bring a vibrant and colourful celebration of the Rajasthan region.