YouTube Orchestra: Online Auditions Open Today

YouTube's second global online orchestra to perform at Sydney Opera House.

October 12, 2010, 4:24 PM

Oct. 12, 2010— -- Practice, practice, practice may get you to Carnegie Hall, but, these days, the Web, Web, Web will get you to worldwide fame.

Building on the success of its first global online orchestra, which performed at New York's Carnegie Hall in 2009, YouTube today announced the launch of the YouTube Symphony Orchestra 2011.

At events in New York and Sydney, YouTube, the video-sharing site owned by Google, said it was taking its second internationally crowdsourced orchestra to the land down under, to perform at the Sydney Opera House in March 2011.

"This is such a great way to connect and inspire people and show how YouTube can unite people around the world," said Ed Sanders, senior marketing manager at YouTube. "It's wonderful to see an example of where technology brings people together in the virtual world and the real world."

From today through Nov. 28, musicians around the world can upload audition videos to show off their abilities. A panel of judges from top orchestras around the world will then select a group of semifinalists. In December, YouTube users will get to vote for their favorite musicians online. The winning musicians will be announced on Jan. 11, 2011.

To make the project more inclusive, YouTube says it is adding an extra twist this year: It's not just inviting violinists, cellists and other classically-trained musicians to audition. YouTube says it wants "solo improvisers" to throw their hats into the ring too.

If you play the electric guitar, the exotic didgeridoo wind instrument or even the Coke bottle, the YouTube Symphony Orchestra might have a place for you, Sanders said.

"Last time around, we had an incredible group of classical musicians who came together from many countries around the world. And in the spirit of access, we wanted to open it up even further," he said.

To audition as an improviser, musicians are encouraged to submit an original piece based on "Mothership," a new composition from Mason Bates, Chicago Symphony Orchestra's composer-in-residence. That piece, among others, will be performed by the YouTube orchestra in a two-hour concert in Sydney.

Michael Tilson Thomas to Direct YouTube Orchestra for Second Time

The original YouTube Symphony Orchestra culled more than 90 musicians, from 30 countries, out of thousands of global submissions. The 2011 orchestra is expected to include about as many musicians, who will all be flown to Sydney for a weeklong "classical music summit" before the final performance.

For the second time, Michael Tilson Thomas, the music director of the San Francisco Symphony, will serve as the symphony's conductor and artistic director.

"I'm really interested in the enduring message of classical music, which is really an unbroken 1,200-year-old tradition, about that going forward into the realm of technology and the many ways in which that is happening and is going to happen," he said.

The YouTube Symphony Orchestra highlights the growing community of musicians who go online to share their performances, behind-the-scenes stories, hints and musical messages.

"I'm just happy I have the opportunity to be involved with something encouraging people … to get them out of their practice rooms and out of the rehearsal halls and out of their concert halls," he said.

And, Thomas said, it's been "startling" to see how powerfully a musician's talent and passion can travel online.

So, whether you're a classically-trained virtuoso or an in-the-closet instrumentalist, maybe it's time to submit your own virtual audition.

"Even through the bandwidth is relatively small and the size of the picture we're looking at is a kind of cyber postage stamp, nonetheless it's amazing how much personality comes through. You can really tell people not only have the technical chops but also have a message that really does some through," Thomas said. "I think it's fascinating to think that technology, which is pretty slick and impersonal by and large, can be used for something as communicative and as deeply felt – in a word, touching – as music-making is."

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