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If you believe that the importance of the arts in these times is inversely proportional to the economic news, than there’s never been a better time for YouTube’s Symphony Orchestra. YouTube announced today the winners of the world’s first orchestra selected entirely through video auditions on-line, a process yielding more than 3,000 videos from all over the world, and 200 finalists.

Since I work in the social media aspects of business software marketing, it’s been a fascinating experience to see my husband, Bill Williams,  in his role as the Music Coordinator for the YouTube project, examine many of the nuances and applications of social media’s power.

The global YouTube community, and Michael Tilson Thomas, Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony, selected from the finalists more than 90 musicians playing 26 different instruments from 30 different countries including: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, China, Columbia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and the United States.  Many of the winners have played professionally but a number of them have not.

The musicians will travel to Carnegie Hall in April for a summit and for a concert under the direction of Tilson Thomas. Selected submissions will be compiled into a mashup video, which will premiere at the Carnegie Hall concert on April 15. The concert will uniquely cover the 1200 year span of classical music and many surprises are in store for the concert-goer. Tickets are on sale now.

Since the launch of this initiative in December 2008, the YouTube Symphony Orchestra’s channel has received more than 13 million views worldwide. To further demonstrate the commitment of YouTube to this genre, new features to improve the site quality and functionality are present on the Youtube.com/symphony channel. According to the press release, The YouTube Symphony Orchestra marks the first program on YouTube to welcome submissions from nearly every country in the world, and the channel continues to be available in 16 different languages.  YouTube has partnered with more than 40 major classical music organizations and institutions to bring this initiative to musicians around the world.

Nothing this ambitious has ever been undertaken in the world of classical music in such a short period of time.    One  perspective is that the discovery of hidden talent can mean the difference between just another orchestra assembled by conventional means and a orchestra chosen in part by us, by subject matter experts, and by the crowd, providing a point of reference for the way we participate in the arts in the future.

In addition to marketing software, Margot also plays a mean jazz piano and is the only person I know who has Giant Steps as a ringtone. JB

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