The YouTube Symphony Orchestra

December 2, 2008 at 09:38 PM ·

Play your part in music history.

Interested in joining the first-ever collaborative online orchestra? Professionals and amateur musicians of all ages, locations and instruments are welcome to audition for the YouTube Symphony Orchestra by submitting a video performance of a new piece written for the occasion by the renowned Chinese composer Tan Dun (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon). YouTube has developed tools to help you learn the music, rehearse with the conductor and upload your part for the collaborative video.

And how do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice and upload. Send them your talent video performance from a list of recommended pieces. Finalists will be chosen by a judging panel and YouTube users to travel to New York in April 2009, to participate in the YouTube Symphony Orchestra summit, and play at Carnegie Hall under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas.
(This information is available on the channel, I just re-worded it in third person)

The deadline for all video submissions is January 28, 2009.
The sheet music is a pdf file and free. Violin 1 and 2 parts are available and you can participate playing the viola as well.
I hope any of you interested participate! YouTube is truly making history, with this new oppurtunity, as well as the YouTube Live event that took place recently.

Replies (39)

December 2, 2008 at 10:02 PM ·'re a genius.  Ever since you became a part of this community you have added so much...and now you're adding such amazing pieces of news.

I am interested in participating...looks fun.

December 2, 2008 at 10:46 PM ·

Hey Paul...  you beat me to it. My daughter and I looke it up last night.. the 1st violin part looks to be quite easy. I may enter at piccolo.


December 2, 2008 at 11:20 PM ·

I wish the music were in my level of playing. It's just out of my level. I know if I had way more time I could do it but not this time. :''(

December 2, 2008 at 11:47 PM ·


I cna`t handle the modern world any more.  Off for some prunes and chocolate under the futon.



December 3, 2008 at 01:34 AM ·

Interesting! On the list of recommended pieces to play, it says:

"Bach: Bach Solo Sonata No. 1 in G Minor, Mvt. I Presto"

Do you think they meant the first movement of the G minor sonata and also the Presto movement? Isn't the first mvmt of that sonata an Adagio mvmt? Am I completely confused?


December 3, 2008 at 01:49 AM ·

Well that makes me feel special, Brian. Haha...

E. Call-

I would imagine just Presto which is the fourth movement.

December 3, 2008 at 05:22 AM ·

Here's the New York Times article about it!

December 3, 2008 at 03:30 PM ·

wow. Thank you , Paul. Are you participating? I'm thinking to submit a video too.:D

December 3, 2008 at 05:16 PM ·

What a crap piece of music and what an autistic idea to stick things together people played in their living rooms. However, nice promotion for Google, Youtube, Tan Dun, LSO and Carnegie Hall. I feel ill.

December 3, 2008 at 09:47 PM ·

 What a crap piece of music and what an autistic idea to stick things together people played in their living rooms. However, nice promotion for Google, Youtube, Tan Dun, LSO and Carnegie Hall. I feel ill.

Oh, come on, don't hold back. Tell us how you really feel. Seriously-- it's a publicity stunt, but it's a step towards making classical music relevant towards a wider audience. Last time I checked, Google and YouTube didn't need to be promoted. By the way, regardless of how you feel about the music and the idea, it's offensive to use the word "autistic" as a pejorative. There are folks on this board who are on the autistic spectrum and folks with children who are autistic. I know people with autism who are accomplished musicians perfectly capable of playing in a live group with other musicians. 

December 3, 2008 at 10:14 PM ·

Sounds like a fun idea to participate in. I'll upload one also.

December 3, 2008 at 10:22 PM ·

Mr. B, that was very rude.  I know people who are autistic as well, and they are capable people.

au-tism: n. A pervasive developmental disorder characterized by severe deficits in social interaction and communication, by an extremely limited range of activities and interests, and often by the presence of repetitive, stereotyped behaviors.

Using that definition, your statement doesn't make much sense.  I guess you were just a little disgusted by the idea and used the first word that came to mind.  I would suggest thinking before you post.  I do not take autism lightly, as no one should, including you.

And please don't insult Tan Dun or any of those famous musicians; I, as well, as much of the world, have a lot of respect for those people.  Tan Dun is a musical genius, in my own humble opinion.  His symphony is absolutely breathtaking and gorgeous.

December 3, 2008 at 10:49 PM ·

Of course you are both right, I shouldn't have used this term in that context. It was absolutely not my intention to offend people with autism. Sorry! However, I still do not like the piece and the idea of pasting videos of single players together, as there is no true communication. I am aware that this is only my personal opinion. So honestly, have fun if you like it!

December 3, 2008 at 11:02 PM ·

Mr. B, thank you for your apology. 

Did it really state that the orchestra will be "pasted" together?  I thought that the finalists will actually go to play in person under Maestro Thomas (which would be SUCH an honor).

December 3, 2008 at 11:15 PM ·

I don't consider it pasting random people together. So what if you don't like the music... I think it would be a good step to getting recognized, don't you?

I think that it would be awesome to see players brought together from all over the world. A person from Boston on your left, and a person from London on your right. I think it will be neat to see either way.

December 4, 2008 at 01:50 AM ·

My CIM Master's student Abigail Wilenski is featured in the promo for this project !(She's the one with the dreadlocks and coolness all about her ;-) ) I think its a fun idea. I hope its a raging success.

December 4, 2008 at 08:49 AM ·

I did not critisize the basic idea of an international orchestra but (spontaneously) the "music minus everybody approach" which is one part of the project and the piece. However, even if I don't like the piece I realize that it would have been counterproductive to audition for Beethoven's 9th Symphony as only orchestra-experienced and technically well equipped players would have been able to handle this difficult piece appropriately: The Beethoven would not have encouraged people to upload videos who have to be drawn deeper into classical music. And of course Tan Dun versus Beethoven has the advantage of an additional symbolic meaning: a piece of a Chinese composer played in New York. Besides international understanding via music the pasted orchestra may at least communicate the nice "from living room to living room" atmosphere and diversity of Youtube. Okay, spontaneously I was too critical.

December 4, 2008 at 03:09 PM ·

it is less about the food but more about who to dine with, about purpose,,,

no one here thought of the youtube idea and there is also no limit what can be extracted out of this youtube experience.  but i can imagine the number of total submissions for the orchestra, tech qualified or not, will be nothing but astonishing, from all corners of the world.  this unifying event  is particularly a great opportunity for the younger violin generation, those with  good tech and strong interest but perhaps confused about  where the whole classical music scene is heading to, to start sharing, networking, exerting influence and molding their own future.  to affirm or reaffirm their believes.

even though the composer is ethnic chinese, i consider his work a product of fusion,  tofu mixed with cheese if you will.   i am not in a position to comment on his level or this piece, but for that matter,  which piece of music to play for this get-together is obviously secondary.  might as well not to eat turkey this time! :)

mathias,,,what piece in your opinion is appropriate for this occasion?

December 4, 2008 at 04:43 PM ·

Only a symphony of Tan Dun. Short concert. I miss an ouverture and a (violin?)concerto to make an evening filling programm.

December 4, 2008 at 07:42 PM ·

It's not a 'profound' piece but when you hear Tan Dun talking about mimicking the noises he heard on the street during the Beijing Olympics I think it's quite clever.  I'm definitely going to submit for it (on viola)  though I doubt I'd want to spend valuable holi-days in the US away from my daughter. 

I wouldn't have thought many pros would be interested though, except possibly the very young ones - they've simply got too much to lose IMO!  The upper string demos given by members of the LSO that I've watched are hardly flawless (nothing wrong with that) and why put yourself on the spot once you've gained the prestige of a professional position?

Does anyone know where you can download the viola excerpts specified for the "talent contest" part?  I've got the 3 sets of violin ones so can "swap" with anyone who wants something uploaded from those.  Otherwise I'll just do the Arpeggione - which I once performed with my mother aged 15.


December 4, 2008 at 09:51 PM ·

I realize that it would have been counterproductive to audition for Beethoven's 9th Symphony as only orchestra-experienced and technically well equipped players would have been able to handle this difficult piece appropriately

Could you have a word with the guy who picked out the bass excerpts.  Thanks!

December 4, 2008 at 11:33 PM ·

al ku, I would have been happy with a multi-language version of Beethoven's 9th symphony because it is great music of high symbolic value. Sorry, Bill. Jim, Tan Dun's street noises remind me of the famous review of the Tchaikovsky violin concerto by Eduard Hanslick, who may have had the idea that this is music where you can smell exhaust gases. This time he may have been right. But this does not really matter for the purpose of the project.


December 6, 2008 at 10:08 AM ·

I can't work out how to listen to the current entries (particularly the violin ones). Is that because you can't view them until you've entered yourself? Or maybe noboday has entered yet? If anyone is able to tell me how to do it I would be very grateful!


December 20, 2008 at 05:05 PM ·

Anyone knows where to get the sheet music of the recommended pieces on the internet? as in, to download free cos printed sheet music costs a bomb.

December 20, 2008 at 07:00 PM ·

It's on the YT channel page. Just read the instructions.........................

January 10, 2009 at 12:32 AM ·

January 10, 2009 at 03:10 AM ·

January 10, 2009 at 10:46 AM ·

They both sound great.  Paganini played like Bach, and Bach played like Paganini!

January 13, 2009 at 06:07 PM ·

I've got a question for you guys who've actually uploaded videos:- when I do a search for ]viola contributions eg

I get a paltry list which doesn't seem to indicate there's been much enthusiasm so far;  when you upload your video does it automatically get added to this search list or can you specify privacy etc, or do you in fact need to upload it separately as a normal YouTube video with the right tags for it to get on the search list?

January 13, 2009 at 07:39 PM ·

someone posted this at another board.. I don't know if it'll give you better results:

"you can actually see other peoples auditions if you go to then select 'View'"

January 14, 2009 at 09:05 PM ·

Thanks Christina - so it really is just that many (or few), then!

NB re my post above I found some viola excerpts on the CBSO website today:

January 29, 2009 at 10:23 AM ·

My attempt at Schubert (if the link works)

January 29, 2009 at 03:39 PM ·

by the way, a poster at another board who's auditioning on cello mentioned a snag:

"There is a problem with the official silent conductor video - it is MISSING 2 measures towards the end!!!! There seems to be an incorrect cut at bar 130.
If you are recording this use the practice version that includes sound, just mute your speakers, otherwise you will never be in time.

It took me most of a day to work this out - I couldn't for the life of me work out how Tan Dun always finished before me!

What does this mean for the project? Is the whole thing fundamentally flawed because of this simple error?

Stupid mistake, and if they don't fix it then the whole project will have to be junked.... cant have half the orchestra finishing ahead of the rest!"

January 29, 2009 at 05:32 PM ·

Ah - I joked in my TD thing that "I'm sure you're missing a bar somewhere in that piece, Mr Dun", seems like I was right.  I never thought it would work anyway if they tried to 'compile' them into a single internet performance - they'll probably just judge on relative merits for the Carnegie Hall event.

February 6, 2009 at 02:05 PM ·

The deadline for submissions was last Friday, but last Thursday my daughter got an email from From The Top, sent to all alumni, saying that the deadline has been extended by one week for FTT alums. Because she was stressed out from finishing up midterms she decided to take advantage of the extension.

Yesterday, one day before the extended deadline, she got out the cameras to record her video, but found that the Tan Dun conducting video had been removed from the site. She contacted the FTT staff person who'd sent out the video, and who was just as surprised as she was to find the video missing. My daughter also contacted the YouTube Symphony via her own YouTube account. The upshot of all this, after a day of back and forth, is that the contest is closed and the YouTube Symphony is not going to honor the extension they promised to FTT alumni kids. Apparently, there was a mis-communication between someone in the YouTube PR department and the rest of their staff.

I guess that the time my daughter spent praciticing the excerpts is not totally wasted, but how aggravating, considering that she would have completed her submission in time if she had not received a last-minute email offering an extension!

What's the lesson here? Don't believe offers sent from a trusted source? Don't rely on large corporations (Google/YouTube) to be able to communicate among themeselves, or with small nonprofits? Maybe the lesson is that you should always get your stuff in early.

February 6, 2009 at 02:46 PM ·

their loss:)


February 8, 2009 at 01:09 AM ·

I would be nice to suppose the YouTube orchestra had relevance, integrity and a truly democratic edge to it. Forgive the cynicism but I do not believe this to be the case. Why else would YouTube promote as a "typical" entrant a piece of excruciatingly bad music (key of A minor which never modulates, never changes and is about as stimulating as repeating a nursey rhyme a thousand times) as a representative effort?

The clip has a shot of MTT looking visibly embarrassed and if I was him I would be too. It's not that this clip is particularly bad, it is that YouTube CHOOSES to broadcast it as representative of the calibre and feel of their auditionees they are going to attract. This clip is clearly presented as a "cool" episode by a "cool" person but for me it backfires. The music played is exactly opposite from that which the orchestra will surely tackle and the material is extremely poor. This is a bad advertisement for a potentially noble idea.


February 8, 2009 at 01:17 AM ·

Apologies, the piece was "stuck" in G minor (not A minor, not that it matters) but the thrust of earlier post stands. The above link is the YouTube orchestra promotional launch video.


February 17, 2009 at 09:02 PM ·

Congratulations to Paolo who I noticed has got through the first stage - I didn't but I'm in good company as neither did a Russian from the Moscow Conservatoire who was arguably the finest viola player to enter and also a Canadian who I thought was actually the best candidate to lead the section he played so immaculately and confidently, even if he did use a camera phone so it sounded a little - harsh (oh well, he can't be any good then, can he).  And a gorgeous rendition of Brahms 3 excerpt from a UK lady didn't get through either.

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