Space and music

5 July 2001

In June, the London Symphony Orchestra began a series of three concerts which will be broadcast live to six ‘remote’ audiences, five in the UK and one in northern Spain.

This is part of a ground-breaking new project in which the LSO and ESA have joined forces to test new internet satellite technology and to reach new audiences for classical music.

ESA is supporting these concerts, which will be broadcast live via satellite, as part of Sunrise, a pilot project under the umbrella of Artes 3, the ESA multimedia initiative dedicated to stimulating the market for satellite multimedia telecommunications. The LSO's partners in the project are GlobeCast (service provider), (content provider), the University of Aberdeen (technology research) and Delta Communication (project manager).

Each event will last approximately two hours and will include opportunities for the audience to ask questions ‘on line’. The project is the first step towards the LSO streaming its concerts via satellite, potentially to a worldwide audience.

The broadcasts are transmitted as video and audio digital streams carried within Internet Packets (IP) which themselves form part of a standard Digital Video Broadcast (DVB) signal. Using IP-over-DVB technology enables a low-cost DVB data receiver card to be fitted into a standard PC. Using the high quality multimedia features of the PC, the LSO can create an audio/visual experience for a new audience group. All the user needs is a conventional satellite dish and a PC. The broadcasts will be transmitted as video and audio.

Advances in technology present new opportunities, both commercial and educational, for the distribution and marketing of classical music to both the listener and the viewer. The commercial potential stems from the possibility of recording new material and delivering it economically to its audience. This method of broadcasting is especially suited to classical music, which does not receive the same high profile as popular music.

Music broadcasts can be supplemented with discussions and classes, some of which could be interactive. LSO sees the Sunrise project as a vital step in exploring new technology prior to launching its Music Education Centre in London, scheduled for December 2002.

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