The world's first collaborative online orchestra debuted at Carnegie Hall last night. The YouTube Symphony Orchestra, selected by the YouTube community and members of the most celebrated orchestras, is made up of 93 musicians, ages 15 to 55, from more than 30 countries.
Michael Tilson Thomas, Grammy-winning music director and the evening's conductor, likened the experience to a melding of real-time and online worlds. "For us, it's been somewhere between a kind of classical music/summit conference/scout jamboree with an element of speed dating thrown in," he told the audience in his introduction. "Actually, over the last nine months, so many people from many different countries with different talents, priorities, perspectives have contributed to the form and content of this evening...It's all about these terms that we hear—terms of the Internet—like "interactive," "creative," "fluid," "democratic,"—these things have nothing to do with the normal world of maestromdom."
The musicians, who met for the first time in New York on Sunday, played a wide range of works from Gabrieli, Brahms, Dvorak, Bach, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, and John Cage. The performance also included the premiere of contemporary Chinese composer Tan Dun's "Internet Symphony No. 1, Eroica."
Thousands of videos were submitted by amateur and professional musicians from around the world. The online community voted for their favorite instrumentalists on YouTube in mid-February. The submissions were compiled into a mashup video, which premiered on YouTube on April 15th.
Last month, British magazine Gramophone named the YTSO as one of the world's 10 most inspiring orchestras "for democratizing classical music on a global scale, making it truly all-inclusive." Last night, the orchestra received a standing ovation from a sold-out audience.