YouTube spotlights classical musicians with 'Internet symphony'

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How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice ... upload?

A contest announced Monday in New York and London invites musicians to record audition videos of themselves and upload them to video-sharing site YouTube for a chance to be a part of what's being billed as "the world's first collaborative online orchestra."

Composer Tan Dun, of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" fame, has composed a piece called "The Internet Symphony" specifically for the contest. Prospective players will download sheet music, practice and record their individual parts, and upload them to the site. Then, they'll record a solo of their choosing from a list of suggested pieces.

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Players' videos will be reviewed by professionals from the London Symphony Orchestra, Berlin Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, and New York Philharmonic – and then, in true American Idol fashion, the greater YouTube community. The winners will be invited to New York in April for a three-day music conference and a performance at the legendary Carnegie Hall in New York. Then their videos will be brought together in a mash-up for YouTube.

Preparation for the online audition ultimately rests with each individual musician, but Google and its partners have given prospective players a leg-up with a number of practice aids.

A tuba player in another lifetime, I sampled a video master class with LSO tuba player Patrick Harrild that identified some of the sticking points in the piece. Then, there's a recording of Mr. Dun discussing his inspiration for the piece, and a customized video of him conducting it and giving cues for the different instrument parts.

Bedroom Beethovens should get cracking: entries can be submitted at youtube.com/symphony through January 28, and the winners will be announced March 3.

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