New York – After 3,000 online auditions, 15 million hits on their YouTube channel and just two days of intensive rehearsal, the 96 musicians who form the YouTube Symphony orchestra made their public debut in a well-reviewed concert at Carnegie Hall.
Playing to a sold out crowd Wednesday night in a venue strewn with computer screens, the performers from 33 countries aired pieces from Bach, Mozart and Brahms, as well as Internet Symphony No. 1, Eroica, written especially for the event by Oscar-winning Chinese composer Tan Dun. The musicians were chosen by an online poll of the 15 million people who viewed their videos.
“We’re meeting a lot of different worlds, the real time world, the online world and the experience of getting acquainted,” said Grammy Award-winning conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, the orchestra’s artistic director, who conducted most of the concert. “It’s been like a summit conference and a scout jamboree, with elements of speed dating.
The New York Times said that the despite the challenges posed by the nature of the project the musicians performed “quite well, actually” but that more rehearsals would be required for greater subtlety. The paper’s music critic also criticized the programme for choosing too many excerpts rather than allowing the orchestra loose on complete works.
But the paper called for the experiment to be made permanent – quoting Kurt Hinterbichler, a physicist at Columbia University who played the double bass in the orchestra and explained that YouTube deserves credit for fielding the musical team rather than “the YouTube International Basketball Team.”
Another appropriate comment came from a tech-savvy Twitter blogger in the audience. Using the short-form comments that have made the site famous, he needed only two words to describe the concert: “really fantastic.” (dpa)