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YouTube orchestra debuts, wows Carnegie Hall

  • Story Highlights
  • The YouTube and Carnegie Hall generations collided Wednesday in New York City
  • YouTube Symphony Orchestra played a live concert to an amazed audience
  • Orchestra assembled from musicians around the world who "auditioned" online
  • So, how do you get to Carnegie Hall? "Upload, upload, upload videos"
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By Aspen Steib
CNN
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NEW YORK (CNN) -- The YouTube and Carnegie Hall generations collided Wednesday night in New York City as a nearly sold-out audience looked on in amazement.

Images from musicians' videos are projected during the YouTube Symphony Orchestra concert in New York.

Images from musicians' videos are projected during the YouTube Symphony Orchestra concert in New York.

Almost 100 musicians from around the world -- the world's first symphony orchestra comprised of members who auditioned solely online -- played their debut gig. They may have forever changed the audition process in their journey.

The YouTube Symphony Orchestra bore a new era of classical performance at Carnegie Hall, and according to a YouTube employee, that's exactly what they wanted to do.

"We hope this is game changing in the sense it redefines audition space, it brings people closer together and lets them collaborate, transcending geographical and linguistic boundaries," said marketing manager Ed Sanders.

Participants were chosen from more than 3,000 YouTube video submissions from more than 70 countries and territories spanning six continents, according to a press release. Video Watch orchestra play »

Their YouTube channel has received more than 15 million page views thus far with members hailing from more than 30 countries. The symphony orchestra's members participated in the three-day Classical Music Summit at Julliard and their Carnegie Hall debut served as the finale.

Michael Tilson Thomas directed the performance and also served as the artistic adviser and conductor to the orchestra. He refined and nurtured each member through their musical selections online until the entire orchestra met in the real world a few days ago.

"For us it's somewhere between a classical music summit conference and a scout jamboree with an element of speed dating thrown in," Thomas said.

While some participants traveled from as far as South Korea, Malaysia and Lithuania, bass player Kurt Hinterbichler lives in New York City. A theoretical physicist working on his doctorate at Columbia University, Hinterbichler was enamored at being chosen to participate.

"Carnegie Hall is still sort of the unofficial pinnacle of achievement of the classical music world," he said. "You know once you've made it to Carnegie Hall you've really made it."

So, how do you get to Carnegie Hall? "Upload, upload, upload [YouTube videos]," joked Thomas, updating the old "practice, practice, practice" punchline.

Violin player Jennifer Lindsay, who is a systems engineer by day, said she was floored when she learned she was selected. "YouTube gave me this opportunity to perform at Carnegie Hall. There's no other way that someone like me who is not even a professional musician would have ever made it."

World-renowned composer Tan Dun created a piece especially for the orchestra titled "Internet Symphony No. 1, Eroica." Dun told YouTube his inspiration for this piece came from the streets of many international cities.

"On the streets of New York, London, Paris, Beijing, Shanghai, I heard the street noise...then I thought this is the spirit beyond, this is the spirit of today."

Dun has also created music for the movie "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon" and the Beijing Summer Olympics.

The symphony orchestra played to a Carnegie Hall audience that was almost 90 percent of capacity.

Audience members seemed to love not only the performance, but the idea as a whole. Peter Newton and his wife were on vacation in New York from London and decided to attend the concert.

"The mixture between the music and democracy... it's interesting that at the end of the day, you bring them together for this performance," he said.

Aaron Polsky attended the performance in support of his sister, who helped organize it. He was amazed at how limitless the performance seemed. "I think it's great... there are really no boundaries other than owning a computer and an Internet connection."

Musicians Lindsay and Hinterbichler both said they had no doubts the event would be a success.

"Absolutely do not underestimate the motivational power of playing at Carnegie Hall," Lindsay said. Hinterbichler agreed, "We've got world class conductors, it will come together."

In the spirit of YouTube, Travis Threlkel designed videos that accompanied all 15 musical selections. The lights in the room changed from green to red during some segments to match the mood of the selection.

Dun said he thought the concert would be a hit with the Internet community. "The whole world tonight is Googling around what's happening in Carnegie Hall," he said.

Hinterbichler said he still did not grasp the vast reality of the situation.

"It's going to be one of those life experiences you know. I probably won't know what it means until ten years down the line when I look back at it," he said.

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So, what will the folks at YouTube come up with next?

"There should be a live Internet performance [by the orchestra]," said Newton, the audience member. After Wednesday night, that certainly seems like a possibility.

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