April 16, 2009

YouTube Symphony Brings Carnegie Hall To Its Feet

A collection of nearly 100 musicians met for the first time less than five days ago, and on Wednesday they earned a standing ovation from a sold-out audience at Carnegie Hall.

Members of the first-ever YouTube Symphony Orchestra earned the opportunity to join the group by auditioning via YouTube. More than 3,000 videos were featured on the audition site, and some 15 million viewers cast their vote to choose the 93 winners.

"We're meeting a lot of different worlds," conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, of the San Francisco Symphony, told the audience on Wednesday night.

"The real time world, the online world and the experience of getting acquainted. For us it's been something between a classical music summit conference (and) scout jamboree combined with speed dating."

After arriving in New York on Sunday, the musicians received coaching from noteworthy musicians including Roberto Diaz, president of the Curtis Institute of Music.

"It was a very talented group of individuals," Diaz told the Associated Press. "Every rehearsal, it's just gotten better and better, and they've gotten this sense of group rhythm, which is a fundamental part of it all. ... To do that in 48 hours is amazing."

The musicians, who range in age from 15 to 55, played works from Gabrieli, Brahms, Dvorak, Bach, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, John Cage and Villa-Lobos as audience members waved their cell phones and cameras in the air in an effort to record every moment.

Last month, British magazine Gramophone named the YouTube Symphony Orchestra as one of the world's 10 most inspiring orchestras "for democratizing classical music on a global scale, making it truly all-inclusive."

"It's turned classical music into something everybody's talking about, huge numbers are engaging, thinking about and also understanding it could be something for them," Carnegie Hall Executive Director Clive Gillinson told the AP.

"I actually didn't think I'd be so moved because I'm a professional musician and I've played in nice concert halls before," flutist Nina Perlove of Cincinnati told the AP.

"But when we walked out on stage for the first time and I looked out, I got kind of watery. I was thinking about my grandfather who loved New York and was a musician and how he would be so moved."


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