This weekend, the orchestra presents the U.S. premiere of an interactive program that combines live performance with 3D technology. For its classical season finale, the Houston Symphony is utilizing the kind of special effects seen in blockbuster movies.

“We’re using technology that’s usually used in stereoscopic 3D movies like Avatar,” said artist and director Klaus Obermaier, who created The Rite of Spring 3D in collaboration with Ars Electronica Futurelab. “We do everything live on stage, there are no studio tricks People can literally watch how the whole 3D world in front of their eyes is created.” The performance piece combines Igor Stravinsky’s iconic score with a live dancer, whose movements are captured by stereoscopic cameras.

Complex computer programs then translate the motion into real-time 3D animations – or avatar dancers – projected on stage. As the orchestra plays, their soundwaves are also fed into computers and influence the animations.

The audience wears 3D glasses to be immersed in this virtual reality. For Obermaier, the use of technology pairs well with Stravinsky’s work, which itself was ground-breaking and tremendously inventive when it premiered over a century ago.

“So it also makes sense to do something with it now, which is even giving it another sophistication, another newness, and shifting it into our century.” It was Music Director Andrés Orozco-Estrada’s idea to program The Rite of Spring 3D for its U.S. debut by the Houston Symphony. He first encountered it about ten years ago when conducting it with the Tonkünstler Orchestra in Vienna. Read more from…

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