Concerts in Second Life aren't quite the real deal

It wasn't until I was standing in the concert hall's central aisle, discussing the recently concluded premiere of John McCabe's Labyrinth Symphony with a high-spirited lady, dressed in a long green ballgown and emerald-studded tiara, that I realised my disaster. My suit, brand new and, well, really rather flatteringly cut, was discretion itself. Nor was the knot of my sober tie anything but neatly drawn, and no strand of hair was out of place. Quite immaculate, really. But in my hurry to reach the Philharmonic Hall, I had quite forgotten to put on any shoes.

The event was last Friday night's much-trumpeted Second Life broadcast of the opening concert of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic's 2007/2008 season. From a PR standpoint, the virtual concert idea was an unprecedented triumph - can you remember another time when an otherwise routine concert announcement made the news pages of the all the main UK dailies? - and a fitting prelude to a season that will run into Liverpool's 2008 lease on the title of European City of Culture. But compared to the actual audience of some 1,200 in Liverpool's Philharmonic Hall, the audience seated in the impressively faithful and apparently quite costly Second Life replica was somewhat less densely packed.

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