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Virtual World Orchestra

http://www.vwo.mcg.gla.ac.uk/

This worldwide multimedia mix will be staged in Glasgow next week, and requests your contributions. The result will be either some sort of definitive global montage of sounds and images, or an equally global headache. The amorphous concert/installation/performance - "happening" might be a useful term, although the organisers, NVA, a group with its roots in industrial noise band Test Dept, would not like it - will augment the live players with Internet submissions from an international public, and the whole thing will go out live on the Net. The most innovative aspect of VWA is the request for local sound samples from Web site visitors, who are invited to submit them to the organisers for use in a live mix of "found" soundscapes on the night. A downloadable rhythm template is provided so that people can create their own mix in advance, and a CD will later emerge. On display, too, is a written equivalent, first-hand e-mail meditations on politics and culture from Armenia to Zimbabwe, not to mention the chap in Kabul lamenting the death of his camel. Instructions are provided, in 13 languages.

The Elgar Society and the Elgar Foundation

http://www.elgar.org/

There is nothing enigmatic about this homage to the great British composer, where an appropriately Edwardian-styled format, in pastel calling-cards, hosts some up-to-the-minute RealAudio, still somewhat under-used by sites of a classical disposition. This month's choice is a clip of the LSO doing the Severn Suite (Op. 87). There are biographies in five different languages and a stress on Elgar's enthusiasm for the new technology of the gramophone: these days, the society thinks, he would be a Net pioneer. Links to Holst, Vaughan Williams and the cult progressive rock group The Enid, whose encore version of Nimrod, it is warned, "may be likely to upset the devotee".

The Beefeater Boat Race 1997

http://www.boatrace.co.uk/html/home.html

The idea of a "virtual boat race" may hint at Shockwave-induced 3D complexity, but in fact it's simply a matter of voting to propel the little light or dark blue animated boats ahead by a length or two. The unsportsmanlike could even vote several times, though with a million or so hits registered already, some persistence would be needed to affect the result. For those viewing the real event this Saturday, there are hints on vantage positions and a map of the course; those participating are profiled in a "cruise the crews with the beefcakes" section, but this must disappoint as a come- on, since it merely offers a few clean-cut mugshots and sporting CVs. Better, perhaps, to stick with the G&Ts, which is, of course, Beefeater's plan: lots of advice on pubs and 24-hour drinking in London.

Welcome to Beautiful Fukushima

http://www.pref.fukushima.jp/frame_e/fchij_e.html

This official site for a Japanese prefecture is pitched somewhere between a haiku and a corporate profile. "Demography and social geography boasts multi-polarization"; and yet "morning is full of dazzling brilliance and replete with hope". It's an anglophone enterprise, aimed at international business, but it is one that is full of poignant contrasts, where graphs and pie-charts of electronic manufacturing output are balanced with an exquisite seasonal photo-gallery. It would be hard for anybody not to be captivated by the unembarrassed (if sometimes wonky) lyricism: the site cares equally about fast access times to the airport, and things that quicken the heart. All this, plus a recipe for for dried persimmon rolled in Japanese radish.

The Association For Supporting The

Islamic Resistance

http://www.moqawama.org/

Hezbollah comes to cyberspace with this basic, not to say fundamental(ist) two-pager: an iconographic painting of the former leader Sheikh Abbas Mussawi, and a fighter with a flag against a map of the Middle East, together with a bilingual message and an

e-mail address for further contact. The Iran-backed group, which is currently at loggerheads with Israel in Southern Lebanon, intends to post reports of operations here in future. Visitors can indulge themselves by finding a place for this one in the moral spectrum that already includes the more established web presences of, say, the Zapatistas or Sinn Fein; the Net, of course, remains neutral.

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