The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music news: Watch and listen as the record-breaking 2011 YouTube Symphony performs in Sydney, Australia

March 27, 2011
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By Jacob Stockinger

In case you didn’t tune in live to the grand finale concert last Sunday, I thought it might be good to offer some links to the second YouTube Symphony 2011.

As I documented in earlier posts this year, the symphony – an exciting project — received hundreds of auditions from around the world.

Then in March, the chosen members (101 young musicians from 33 countries on five continents) gathered in Sydney Australia for a week to rehearse an ambitious 2-1/2 hour program that was performed in the iconic Sydney Opera House (fitted out with projections of sails, below top) under the baton of Michael Tilson Thomas (below bottom), music director of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and the New World Symphony Orchestra in Miami, and was webcast live around the world last Sunday.

Here is a link to the YouTube Symphony’s rich homepage where you can watch the whole concert and also find stories about various musicians — students and mentors — and other aspects of the concert and the YouTube Symphony in a day-by-day account. It sure likes like a lot of fun and pleasure.

And here is a great portfolio of still shots from the weeklong event:

The whole project is so intriguing as an example of the globalization of classical music – it sure sounds like it is even more popular in Asian and South American than in North America and Europe.

At last count, the performance reached almost 31 million viewers -=- BREAKING ALL RECORDS WIOTH THREE TIMES AS MANY VIEWERS AS THE YOUTUBE  U2 CONCERT. That makes it THE most watched concert in history — in any genre of music.,youtube-symphony-attracts-33-million-views-worldwide.aspx

So much for the doomsayers, who find classical music to be hopelessly moribund.

Reviewing the finale of the week-long YouTube Symphony Orchestra summit for The Times of London, Richard Morrison wrote: “three cheers for the way that Tilson Thomas and his Google collaborators managed to make this concert thrilling and accessible without dumbing down the music. I loved the way that Kseniya Simonova’s sand paintings, gradually disclosing then dissolving their subjects, were harnessed to the East-meets-West fusion of the Colin Jacobsen/Siamak Aghaei string suite, Ascending Bird. And the pulsating techno thrash of Mason Bates’s Mothership, with four improvising soloists (electric guitar, Chinese zither, double bass and jazz violin) placed around the orchestra, was as exciting visually as musically… Best of all, this orchestra of young professionals and dedicated amateurs played Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra and extracts from Stravinsky’s Firebird with real verve and technical assurance under Tilson Thomas.”

I am particularly intrigued about how the use of new media and social media as well as different genres of music are altering the landscape of classical music.

Anyway, the event received a lot of coverage. So here is just a sampling, some selected links and blogs and critiques, including reactions from participants.

Look at these wonderful light projections:

Here is a review with a schedule guide to some of the highlights:

And here some news accounts:

Maybe something similar could be done for a mammoth solo piano recital of professionals or really fine amateurs. I would love to see and r that.

Be sure to add your own thoughts and perceptions.

The Ear wants to hear.

And so apparently do countless people around the globe.

Posted in Classical music

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