The Worldcon Philharmonic Orchestra

Glasgow 2024 will be presenting a number of live music events, such as the new Opera, Morrow’s Isle, which we’ve already announced. 

In this blog entry, we’re delighted to highlight the live performance by a full symphony orchestra—the Worldcon Philharmonic—on the Friday evening of the convention, 9 August 2024, in the Auditorium of the SEC Armadillo. The programme for the evening will feature musical works inspired by science fiction and fantasy, with a particular focus on music from games and from Scotland.

This follows the success of similar concerts at the Worldcons in London in 2014 and Dublin in 2019, each building on our first such concert at the 2009 Eastercon LX. We achieved this with the essential support of conductor and composer Adam Robinson, now based in Glasgow, who assembled the performers from professional symphony orchestras such as the LSO, and who arranged the repertoire of music for the concerts. We’re delighted that Adam will again provide his support in Glasgow. 

2019 Dublin Symphony photo by Iain Clark

The SF genre and related fantastika have been the inspiration for powerful adaptations in different formats, with music being one of the most impactful as it works directly on the emotions of the listener, to move and  inspire, and to enhance the sense of wonder. The symphonic concerts have given us the opportunity to really explore that and to take it to a new level for fan-run conventions. We’ve learned a lot about how to organise such complex events, and also how to stay true to the participatory and whimsical nature of the Worldcon, mixing entertainment, new experiences, fun, and even some edginess.

Here are the concert programmes from 2014 and 2019, to give a sense of the range of music that will be performed. 

2014 Worldcon Philharmonic Orchestra Programme
2019 Worldcon Philharmonic Orchestra Programme

You can also watch clips of some of the pieces from 2014 here. Other clips can be found online.

The repertoire for the 2024 concert is still being finalised, but it will feature a mixture of familiar and less familiar pieces. Some will be works that were written for the screen, whether film, tv, or video game scores, or earlier works that were later used in media and have since become associated with the genre. Other pieces will be from the classical repertoire, which were originally written for a fantastical story or myth. We will include some works reflecting the music of Scotland, perhaps also featuring local instruments. We also expect to have vocal performances, which were highlights of the previous concerts, and which will work well with our musical themes, particularly from games. 

Many people had never experienced a live orchestra, which is very different from recordings, as you can feel the reverberation of the music. So when planning your attendance at Glasgow 2024, do come along and experience the intensity of the music as it should be performed—live! 

The 82nd Worldcon will take place in Glasgow, August 8–12, 2024. We can’t wait to welcome you to Glasgow and the SEC/Armadillo for a Worldcon for Our Futures.

Vincent Docherty is a fan and con-runner, who co-chaired the Glasgow Worldcons in 1995 & 2005. He grew up in Glasgow, where he also studied and researched in Chemistry. His career in the energy industry has taken him to London, Muscat (Oman), and The Hague, where he currently lives. He had an early interest in SF&F, Space and Science, and at 16, he attended the first SF convention in Glasgow, quickly becoming involved in organizing SF societies and conventions, including British National Eastercons and Worldcons. He has been Fan Guest of Honour at the UK Eastercon and other cons and was presented with the Big Heart Award in 2014. He remains an active con-runner and programme participant, chairing the 2011 & 2021 SMOFcons, member of the Hugo Award Subcommittee several times, running the music program & symphonic concerts for the 2014 & 2019 Worldcons, and Chair’s advisor and a Division Head for the Dublin 2019 and Glasgow 2024 Worldcons.