March 2011 will mark the YouTube Symphony Orchestra‘s (YSO) return. This time, the winners will be taking residence in the Sydney Opera House under the watchful eye of conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, the widely respected music director of the San Francisco Symphony.
The YSO is a crowdsourced classical orchestra enjoying its second year. Last year an entire orchestra was selected from audition videos posted to YouTube by professional players and skilled hobbyists. The musicians then met for the first time in New York, rehearsed, and performed at Carnegie Hall.
This year’s applicants came from all over the world, displaying both quirkiness and actual talent. Such as a German trombone player, Ramon, buzzing out “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer” on a vuvuzela while wearing a tuxedo in the snow. Other anomalies include a guzheng player from Beijing and an electric guitarist from Brazil.
While the orchestra is primarily comprised of traditional instruments like violins, horns, and percussion, it’s a testament that anyone can get involved. “Usually [an audition] is done behind a curtain. With our partners, we wanted to challenge that,” said Ed Sanders, YouTube’s Group Marketing Manager, going on to add that anyone with the skill and a webcam should be able to have a go.
The goal of the YSO is to open up classical music to a new, curious community. Its website has played a huge role in both drawing together a global network of professional musicians and also introducing orchestral music to younger or casual listeners.
The site, hosted on YouTube, provides online master classes, improvisations, musician profiles and human interest stories designed to intrigue amateurs and professionals. “The classical music community globally was very large but very fragmented and something that we wanted to do, as sort of an experiment, was to create a hub where people could sort of connect around a common passion,” said Sanders.
Videos will be continually added to the YouTube site between now and March – some to give practical advice and inspire aspiring musicians, others to be enjoyed as musical flights of fancy.
To watch the auditions, meet the winners and see the master classes and improvisations, visit the YSO website.
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