Bringing the New York Philharmonic to virtual reality

By Jake Kreinberg

We talked with NYC Parks about how it plans to use virtual reality for the first time, and how it hopes VR will attract audiences to its many parks, events and festivals throughout the year.

The New York Philharmonic performed in Central Park in June and we teamed up with NYC Parks to record the event in virtual reality. We spoke with Adrian Sas, a video producer, about the benefits of VR to the Parks’ mission.

How is NYC Parks leveraging new media to engage with its audience?

Adrian Sas

The parks in New York City make it such a unique and magical place to live and visit. There are 30,000 acres of parkland available for people to use and enjoy, and we want everyone to be a part of it.

We are constantly innovating in the ways we spread the word with our communications efforts, including using social media to showcase all the natural beauty our city has to offer. We’ve done live-streaming, time lapses and taken aerial photography — all to offer a taste of what’s out there.

From a picture of a family enjoying its weekend at the beach to a group of friends taking advantage of a Sunday afternoon by Brooklyn Bridge Park, we capture many moments that offer a glimpse into what it means to live here.

New York City is much more than an urban jungle — it’s home to the most beautiful parks in the world. And we’re showing it through social media.

How will 360-degree video and virtual reality help bring the public closer to the Parks?

Locations such as Central Park are iconic landmarks that attract and bring people together. We’re excited to use virtual reality technology to make that experience available to more people, even if they are physically located somewhere across the world.

VR is a new medium that gives you a sense of presence. It catapults users right into the middle of the action — in this case, to the Great Lawn for a New York Philharmonic concert.

With a 360-degree camera onstage, we’re going to be able to capture the perspectives of both the audience and the musicians, allowing people to feel what the other would ordinarily see.

This is a unique opportunity to experience one of the world’s most respected and admired musical acts.

Hopefully, the immersive nature of the video will inspire people to come to the parks and enjoy concerts in the other boroughs following the Central Park kickoff. The “Concerts in the Park” program is 50 years strong and we couldn’t be happier to be providing this entirely new perspective.

Why are you excited about collaborating with AP for this project?

“Concerts in the Park” is a collaboration between three unique institutions — NYC Parks, the Central Park Conservancy and the New York Philharmonic.

Together with the Conservancy, we’re providing a harmonious place to enjoy an evening outdoors, while the Philharmonic is offering its musical talent and ingenuity to entertain and inspire concertgoers.

By working with AP, we are bringing an additional and important element to the equation, which is the ability to engage audiences through new forms of storytelling.

What message do you have for the public for coming out and seeing this concert and others to come?

This concert is one of the most powerful and enlightening entertainment experiences the city has to offer. It’s a magical event with a world-class musical institution playing for free in the open air.

While we’re hoping to capture the essence of the concert through this virtual reality experience, there’s nothing like physically being there.

Jake Kreinberg

Jake is the text and multimedia product manager at The Associated Press and the former editor of Insights. He previously covered college sports as a reporter for AP and helped design its multi-year strategic plan. Have feedback about the blog? Contact us at

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