YouTube auditions open for Sydney Opera House gig

One hundred musicians will be selected from video submissions to come to Australia for a week of master classes and performances as part of the YouTube Symphony Orchestra 2011.

Pam Carroll
Former editor of CNET Australia, Pam loves being in the thick of the ever-growing love affair (well addiction, really) that Australians have with their phones, digital cameras, flat screen TVs, and all things tech.
Pam Carroll
2 min read

Always wanted to say you performed on stage at the Sydney Opera House? Opportunity knocks for musicians of all stripes, with online auditions now open for the YouTube Symphony Orchestra 2011. Those selected from the global competition will be invited for a week of master classes and performances at the Sydney Opera House in March 2011.

The YouTube Symphony could put you on the Concert Hall stage at the Sydney Opera House. (Sydney Symphony image © 2010 Keith Saunders. Used with permission of Google. All rights reserved.)

Famed didgeridoo player William Barton demonstrates how the improv challenge might be tackled. (Credit: Pam Carroll/CBSi)

This collaborative project to present classical music in new ways and contexts builds from the inaugural YouTube Symphony Orchestra, which gathered 90 musicians from 30 countries to perform at New York City's Carnegie Hall in April 2009. In Sydney, the YouTube Orchestra will again be conducted by Grammy Award-winner and music director of the San Francisco Symphony Michael Tilson Thomas, with the March 20 show from the Opera House streamed live globally on YouTube.

To be considered, both amateur and professional musicians from around the world are invited to upload audition videos of designated pieces to demonstrate their musical and technical abilities. To help entrants prepare for the auditions, The London Symphony Orchestra, the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and other leading orchestras are creating a series of instructional "master class" videos, which are available on the YouTube Symphony site.

In a change this year to make classical music more "radically inclusive", an improvisation segment has been added. Soloists on any type of instrument can submit an original improvisation based on "Mothership", a new work composed for the YouTube Symphony by the Chicago Symphony's composer-in-residence Mason Bates. There are two improv sections — lyrical and jazz — and four improv musicians will be selected to join the 96 in the orchestra to play their own solo during the final performance.

Furthermore, as part of the effort to what Sydney Opera House CEO Richard Evans calls "democratising creativity", the YouTube community will be able to vote online for their favourite performers. The semi-finalists will first be selected from all YouTube entries by an expert panel from leading orchestras around the world.

YouTube will close the video auditions on 28 November 2010. Community voting for the winners from the selected semi-finalists will take place from 10-17 December, with those chosen for a flight to Sydney announced on 11 January 2011. Full details, including the scores, master class videos and FAQs can be found at youtube.com/symphony.