The Second YouTube Symphony just concluded over the weekend by giving a grand performance led by Michael Tilson Thomas at the Sydney Opera House in Australia. The occasion brought together 101 young musicians from 33 countries and five continents. While many elitist classical music critics prefer to complain about what the YouTube Symphony is not, there is different way to think about its impact and potential influence on the musical world.
The YouTube Symphony Orchestra does something that no other orchestra can do: it brings the world together and celebrates classical music – new and old.
The reality is classical music needs a grand event like this to keep it moving forward. The YouTube Symphony can become the Super Bowl for classical music. I know… the thought!?
The advertising, the money, the bastardization of classical music is a dreaded thought. But it is a necessary one. Yes, classical music needs to find ways to entertain as much as it expands our artistic minds. I’m sure the fear is that the quality of performance will diminish. Umm, no it won’t. It’s a competition led by some of the greatest musicians in the world. THAT says something. THAT means something and don’t forget it.
What if the YouTube Symphony Orchestra created a summer training program? Or evolved into a summer traveling orchestra with a global tour? What if young composers competed to have their piece performed? The “what ifs” are endless… The business opportunities are incredible.
Here in the U.S. the ongoing diatribes from the old and stuffy music snobs regurgitate the fact that classical music is dying. On the contrary, classical music isn’t dying. It’s changing. It’s becoming something that people who prefer Mozart and Beethoven don’t want to happen. Classical music is modernizing. Technology is one of the key drivers, but so is the cultural evolution of young musicians and composers. (Read what I previously wrote here.)
Tomorrow’s musical world will be more digital, which means classical music needs to join the revolution or be left behind. Just because grandma (and I love grandma) isn’t on YouTube, Twitter, or Facebook, doesn’t mean classical music shouldn’t join. Classical music is becoming more digital under our very noses.
If you watched the YouTube Symphony Orchestra concert and heard Mothership by Mason Bates, then you heard electronics blended with acoustic instrumentation. Bates performed on a drum machine or electric gizmo to augment live performance. Furthermore, Bates is a DJ, and he brings those life experiences into his music making.
I continue to imagine a world where people have greater access to classical music. Live streaming can do a world of good for the music industry. It could revolutionize the radio broadcast and bring classical music concerts to laptops, smartphones and iPads.
It’s taking classical music to the young versus forcing them to come to classical music.
Images Source: YouTube
- “Pulse: Sand artist steals show at YouTube Symphony Orchestra finale” and related posts (cnet.com.au)
- Chicago/Milwaukee Musicians Join the YouTube Symphony Orchestra 2011 (thecontrapuntist.com)
- YouTube Symphony Orchestra 2011 (brainpickings.org)