YouTube Symphony Orchestra returns

Michael Tilson Thomas heads up online search for performers


Following the worldwide success of last year’s YouTube Symphony Orchestra project – where an orchestra was compiled from online video auditions uploaded to website YouTube – the formula is returning, in time for a concert next March at Sydney Opera House.


Musicians selected for the YouTube Symphony Orchestra 2011 will be invited to a week-long classical music summit of rehearsals and concerts at Sydney Opera House and masterclasses from international orchestras, including the London Symphony Orchestra and the Berlin Philharmonic. Last year, thousands of global submissions from 30 countries were submitted for the inaugural YouTube Symphony Orchestra, which resulted in 90 selected musicians playing a sold-out concert at New York’s Carnegie Hall in April 2009.

‘We’re exploring how classical music’s 1,200-year long tradition can enter the realm of high technology and what that will mean for its mission and legacy,’ says Tilson Thomas. ‘Carnegie Hall was a first step in that process. 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.’

To be considered for the 2011 Orchestra, musicians are being asked – as was the case last year – to upload an audition video of a designated piece to demonstrate their musical skills and abilities.

In addition, a new second search for four solo improvisers is intended to extend the process beyond traditional classical instruments. For this, musicians are being asked to submit an original improvisation based on a new composition Mothership by US-based classical/electronica composer Mason Bates. For this section the entry requirements leave plenty of room for interpretation: ‘You are welcome to upload videos of you playing any instrument, from the erhu to wine glasses, and you can sing or rap… we encourage diversity and creativity in the solo improvisation video.’

The online auditions are now open and extend through to the 28 November deadline at


Neil McKim