Begun in 2003 by Linden Research, Inc. of San Francisco, Second Life is now inhabited by nearly nine million people who, through their online entities called avatars, engage in activities such as commerce, house building, sex and decorating. 100 audience members, chosen by lottery, will experience the performance in a simulated version of Liverpool Philharmonic Hall.
The orchestra, led by principal conductor Vasily Petrenko, will perform Rachmaninoff's Symphonic Dances, Ravel's Sh_h_razade and the world premieres of John McCabe's A Rhyme for the Season and Kenneth Hesketh's Symphony Labyrinth (commissioned by BBC Radio 3).
During the concert, virtual refreshments and restrooms will be available to Second Life listeners, who may socialize via instant messaging without disturbing the concert.
"People will be experiencing the watching of a performance within a group...and there will be an opportunity to discuss it: it's about creating a community," said Millicent Jones, the orchestra's executive director of marketing and communications, to The Guardian of London.
Also planned is a post-performance Q&A session with Hesketh, Petrenko and soprano Kate Royal in the virtual Grand Foyer Bar, where the artists will take the forms of avatars.
The orchestra's chief executive, Michael Elliott, stressed the importance of capturing new audiences and employing current technologies.
"Second Life, which has grown explosively ... allows us to tap into a potential global audience. It's also a lot of fun and it certainly adds a different dimension to the more traditional visit to a concert hall," he said in a press release.
Those interested in winning tickets to attend the virtual September 14 concert in Second Life may register at www.liverpoolphil.com (where tickets for the real-life concert are available as well).
"Our event is attempting [sic] to replace the live music experience, we're simply using another way to share it with more people," said Jones.