'VAN Beethoven' using VR to bring classical music to greater LA

A traveling VR experience will allow LA residents will be able to see and hear a performance inside Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Starting in September, the Los Angeles Philharmonic will be giving people around LA the chance to virtually step inside Walt Disney Hall via an Oculus Rift headset.

The virtual reality experience VAN Beethoven will be based out of a specially designed truck that will make its way around Los Angeles beginning on September 11, when it will be stationed outside Walt Disney Concert Hall, the home of the LA Phil, and ending on October 18 during CicLavia, which sees some of the city's streets closed to traffic.

In between those two dates, the touring truck will make its way to the LA County Fair, the Hollywood Bowl, Museum Mile, Grand Park, the Levitt Pavilion and the LA Korean Festival, among other destinations -- and with more to be added as the event approaches.

What will viewers experience? A four-minute private concert by the orchestra featuring the opening minutes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. The visuals, including carpet and seating, are designed to replicate Walt Disney Hall, and the experience is said to include "a few surprises" along the way.

Also in September, VAN Beethoven become available as a free app called Orchestra VR in the Oculus Rift and Samsung VR app stores.

The Philharmonic says it has created the experience in order to add a community element to its upcoming Immortal Beethoven festival, supporting the oft-stated view of its superstar music director Gustavo Dudamel that music is "a fundamental human right."

VAN Beethoven is one of several recent initiatives to bring culture to the masses via virtual reality. Among the biggest, Google earlier this year revealed its Expeditions program, which allows school kids to experience virtual field trips to major institutions such as the American Museum of Natural History using a Cardboard headset.

www.laphil.com/vanbeethoven