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To coincide with the First Night of the 122nd Proms Festival, the BBC has commissioned a project that showcases music in a different way: projection of musical imagery onto the face of a 300-yr old cello. The soloist in the opening concert – Sol Gabetta – agreed to have her Goffriller cello modified to receive cutting-edge tracking and projection technology. According to the artists and technicians who created the project, this combination creates a “bespoke piece of animation” projected onto [the cello] while it is being played. “The animation both reacts to and visualizes elements of the piece whilst tracking … the instrument’s movement during [the] performance, creating a piece which shows the cello in a brand new light.”

The cello itself is not in need of being shown in a “brand new light.” Its beauty and versatility make it a darling of composers and concert programmers around the world. In fact, that is what makes this project so interesting: the well-known, well-loved classical instrument has become a canvas for us to see the music from a fresh perspective. The beauty of the aural has been translated into the visual. Technological innovation meets hand-crafted artistry. These are not the opposite ends of a spectrum – this project shows technology and artistry opening a new door, and walking hand-in-hand into the 21st century.

The Proms Festival this year has been touted as “The Year of the Cello,” featuring at least nine prominent cellists as well as a concert with 12 cellos, during the eight and a half weeks of concerts. This new technology and the film about it are both part of the BBC’s additional activities that draw new audiences, and stretch the boundaries of the “traditional” classical music festival.

The BBC is no longer able to broadcast videos of the Proms concerts, but you can listen here: BBC audio broadcast of the July 15, 2016 Concert – The First Night of the Proms.

See how the film was produced:

See, hear and read about this amazing project, at the following links: