SHOPPERS in Festival Place came to a standstill as the Philharmonia Orchestra played two live concerts in the town.

With giant planets suspended overhead in the shopping centre, the orchestra played a stirring programme including Beethoven’s Symphony No 5, the Mars movement from Holst’s Planet Suite, Steiner’s It Came From Outer Space, and Bartok’s Romanian Folk Dances.

More than 1,000 people stopped to listen to the two performances, with members of the audience invited up to conduct the orchestra as they played.

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Bringing Beethoven to Basingstoke We had a great time taking over @festivalplace's Porchester Square over the weekend, performing to Basingstoke's shoppers as a part of #thevirtualorchestra, conducted by @hollyjmathieson This week is your last chance to visit the installation—find out more on our website.

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The informal concerts were part of a mission to bring live orchestral music to the masses, which saw Festival Place partnering with the Philharmonia Orchestra and The Anvil in Basingstoke.

These two performances coincide with the orchestra having hosted a Virtual Orchestra experience throughout July and the beginning of August in Festival Place.

Jonathan Mayes, the Philharmonia’s director of residencies and regional programme, said: “The Philharmonia has thoroughly enjoyed extending its music beyond the Anvil in Basingstoke over the past two months. “These two concerts have served as part of the culmination of our The Virtual Orchestra project, which has already seen over 15,000 interactions with members of the public.

“We are delighted with the reception we have received in Basingstoke and are particularly grateful to Festival Place for all their support in delivering the project.

“We look forward to welcoming these new audiences to our future concerts in Basingstoke.”

As well as the digital installation, shoppers had the chance to try virtual reality headsets, which transported the wearer to a concert hall stage for an extraordinary close-up glimpse into the sights and sounds of a symphony orchestra.