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YouTube Symphony Orchestra will rise again

It opened Carnegie Hall, briefly, to the video generation: flash bulbs and flip cams popped and blinked throughout the auditorium. When the YouTube Symphony Orchestra played at Carnegie Hall in April, 2009 -- an ensemble of more than 90 players from 30 countries, chosen from video submissions on YouTube and brought together for a concert led by Michael Tilson Thomas -- the question was whether this was a project with a future or a one-off stunt. Stunt it may be, but YouTube is continuing it; last night marked the launch of auditions for the YouTube Symphony Orchestra 2011, which is soliciting videos through November 28, leading up to a concert in March, 2011 at the Sydney Opera House in Australia.

The name may be the same, but that’s the only continuity; the musicians who took part in the first YouTube Symphony Orchestra are not eligible for this new iteration of the project. (Anyone who auditioned and wasn’t accepted is, however, welcome to apply again.)

There have been a few changes, mainly expansions. Winners of the auditions will come together for a week in Sydney, rather than the four days that they had in New York, which can only help to make the orchestra, playing on the final night of the event, a more cohesive ensemble. There is also a slot for solo improvisation, on any instrument (or voice); four improvisers will be selected to take part in a new piece, “Mothership,” by the composer Mason Bates (who offered a movement of a new work at the last YouTube Symphony Orchestra concert).

But the format is not all that different: members of various orchestras will still serve as coaches; Tilson Thomas is still on board; there’s still no guarantee of how this will all come out. It’s possible that the level of audition tapes may be slightly higher now that people have had a chance to see that the project actually works and is on the level, but that’s mere speculation.

Members of the public will be able to vote on the finalists in December (the tentative dates are December 10 to December 17) on the YouTube channel. But the channel will remain open for people to watch, even without voting, throughout the submission process.

By Anne Midgette  | October 13, 2010; 5:17 AM ET
Categories:  international , news  
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