Art and Exploration, Second Life

Virtual Concert Gets a Critique of Sorts

An area that still hasn’t, in any serious way, grabbed the attention of the cultural critic is Second Life. Still looked down on by the critic – that is, with the occasional exception, like Sara Corbett’s piece “Portrait of an Artist as an Avatar” in the New York Times that we wrote about a few days ago – the emerging Second Life arts happenings are nearly invisible to the mainstream swath of the world.

John Terauds, a classical music critic at The Toronto Star, ventured into Second Life’s Music Island to write up a really interesting feature article that explored the current state of classical music in SL.

His critique of the concert he listened to – an early-music trio playing in Switzerland and broadcast on Music Island is grounded in the positive:

Gone is the starchy, silence-is-golden ethos of classical concerts, with audience members exchanging comments and coming and going as they please. The live performance is so multicultural, so affable, because it is taking place in the virtual world known as Second Life.

Terauds then goes on to survey the classical music scene in SL, noting that the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra is “the biggest classical organization to have a presence” in SL, and that 105,000 visitors have popped in to listen to the orchestra since 2007. He also notes that musicians make at most $20 per concert (with few exceptions) and that most of them perform in SL to meet new friends and expand the audience base for their music. He describes the unique challenges facing classical music performers and, of course, reiterates one of the main advantages of Second Life:

“This community is free from the cost and logistics of travel,” he writes, then quotes one of the SL musicians, Thomas Coard, an early-music specialist, who says, “My goal with (Second Life) has been to create my dream musical projects and unite a few people in the world to display these projects.”

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