Worlds collide: YouTube sets orchestra tone

NEW YORK — There’s a new way to get to Carnegie Hall: YouTube.

Borrowing from “American Idol,” the online video site announced plans Monday for a YouTube Symphony Orchestra, featuring a collaboration of wannabe musicians with Carnegie Hall, conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, composer Tan Dun and others.

Through Jan. 28, musicians can submit entries as they perform two videos: a display of their musical talents and an interpretation of an original work by Tan, who won an original-score Academy Award for 2000’s “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”

A panel of experts from some of the world’s leading orchestras will narrow the field. YouTube users will then vote for the winners, who will be announced March 2.

In April, those selected will be flown to New York to participate in a three-day workshop with Thomas, culminating in a Carnegie Hall performance on April 15 of what Tan calls his “Internet Symphony No. 1 — Eroica.”

Clips of the video entries of Tan’s piece — which immodestly shares the name of one of Beethoven’s most famous works — will be woven together to create a living YouTube symphony.

“This thing is huge,” Thomas, music director of the San Francisco Symphony, said in an interview Monday. “Five months from now, I know that we’re doing something. Exactly who’s doing it, I don’t know. Exactly what it is, I don’t know. So my ability to tell you exactly what’s going to happen on that day — at the moment — is: I don’t know. That’s part of the adventure of the whole thing.”

The announcement heralds the beginning of a global initiative between YouTube and the classical music world with the enthusiastic participation of luminaries such as Thomas and the pianist Lang Lang, and many elite orchestras, including the London Symphony.

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