Second Life is claiming a first: the Liverpool Philharmonic is set to be the first professional orchestra to perform live to a virtual audience. Well, the first in Second Life, anyway.

It seems a little odd, as to me the very essence of live performance is, well, being there. But Second Life zealots swear by the experience, and the Liverpool Philly's performance on September 14 should be an interesting experiment. Can the virtual world ever replicate real-life experience?

The Liverpool Philharmonic will perform a selection of pieces in a virtual, 3D representation of its home auditorium. The virtual theatre will have refreshment stands and theatre-style seating. And, weirdly, toilets. Do avatars need to wee?

Second Life is a 3D online virtual world launched in 2003, developed by Linden Lab. And it has 9 million virtual inhabitants. Let's hope the virtual sewers are up to the job.

See also: Second Fest, Glastonbury without mud