YouTube Orchestra moves to Sydney Opera House

YouTube Symphony Orchestra 2011 coming to Sydney

Famed didgeridoo artist William Barton belts out some tunes.

Famed didgeridoo artist William Barton belts out some tunes.

YouTube today announced a partnership with Sydney Opera House and renowned conductor Michael Tilson Thomas to bring the YouTube Symphony Orchestra 2011 to Australia.

The YouTube Symphony Orchestra is a worldwide collaboration that unites musicians in an international orchestra via an audition process on YouTube. Originally debuting at Carnegie Hall in 2009, it was a sell-out success, bringing together 90 musicians from 30 different countries with the world's leading classical artists. Now the same concept is coming to the Sydney Opera House, with new ways for amateur musicians to get involved.

“[We’re] taking the 1200-year tradition of classical music and taking it in a new direction,” said classical conductor Michael Tilson Thomas. "The YouTube Symphony Orchestra 2011 at Sydney Opera House will be the next step as we seek to expand beyond the rehearsal room, beyond the concert hall and connect with a global audience."

The announcement was made simultaneously at the Sydney Opera House and Carnegie Hall in New York, via a live video feed. Sir Clive Gillinson, executive and artistic director at Carnegie Hall, said: “We’re honoured to pass the torch to Australia and [Sydney Opera House CEO] Richard Evans.”

Guests in Australia were treated to a series of live performance from classical music group Aston, didgeridoo maestro William Barton (pictured) and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra’s Wind Quartet.

YouTube's lead product marketing manager, Ed Sanders, also paid respects to the late Joan Sutherland. “It’s great to see new technologies like this taking (opera) to a whole new audience."

This year, applicants have two different ways of entering. Experienced musicians can upload an audition video of a classical music piece to demonstrate their technical abilities. Alternatively, applicants can submit a solo improvisation based on the Mason Bates' orchestral composition Mothership using an instrument of their choice. The orchestral score works as a backdrop to the applicant's music.

“You no longer need to be a classical musician to enter... You don’t even need to own an instrument,” explained Sanders. YouTube has built an augmented reality application for the contest. The app employs a motion sensor that allows users to create music by simply moving an object in front of their webcam.

Online auditions for the YouTube Symphony Orchestra 2011 open on 13 October and run until 28 November. The YouTube community will cast the winning votes, choosing from a group of semi-finalists selected by a panel of orchestral professionals. The winning finalists will be flown to Australia for a week of rehearsals and master classes, culminating in a performance at the Sydney Opera house. In all, four improvisers and 96 orchestral members will be selected.

The winners will be announced on 11 January next year.

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Chris Jager

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