SF's Rock Star Conductor Goes YouTube

Project selects 90 professional for YouTube symphony

San Francisco's very own rock star symphony conductor is at it again.

The auditions are over. Michael Tilson Thomas, the conductor of the San Francisco Symphony, and YouTube have made their final decision. The first YouTube Symphony Orchestra -- selected by viewers of the Web site -- will consist of more than 90 musicians from some 30 countries.

More than 3,000 videos were submitted by amateur and professional musicians from 70-plus countries. Musicians from professional orchestras including the London and San Francisco symphonies and the Berlin, Hong Kong and New York philharmonic orchestras picked 200 finalists. The winners were then selected by voters on YouTube.

"We are excited about the talent, variety and adventurousness of the musicians who are coming together from around the world to form the YouTube Symphony Orchestra," Tilson Thomas said Monday. "I am looking forward to our exploration of the incredible range of classical music's 1,200-year-old tradition which we will present in a unique way to our audience."

The orchestra will have 26 different instruments. The selected musicians, ranging from ages 17 to 55, will participate in three days of master classes and rehearsals next month, culminating in an April 15 concert at Carnegie Hall conducted by Thomas, the San Francisco Symphony's music director.

They will perform composer Tan Dun's "Internet Symphony No. 1, Eroica," a piece specially arranged for the occasion. A mashup will be posted on YouTube.com on April 16.

Among those selected: Calvin Lee, a 37-year-old surgeon in Modesto, Calif.

"The strings on my violin were 15 years old when I first learned of the YouTube Symphony Orchestra and that's when I realized it was time to get my violin out of the closet," Lee said. "Since then I've been practicing, playing and thoroughly enjoying meeting other passionate musicians from across the globe through the YouTube Symphony Orchestra."

Besides California, the U.S. winners are from Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Washington state.

The international winners are from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bermuda, Brazil, Britain, 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 and Ukraine.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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