Why Andrea Bocelli's Easter concert made YouTube history

Andrea Bocelli's YouTube Easter concert broke the viewership record for classical music. He touched the world with his April 12 performance at the deserted Milan Cathedral. 

Standing alone in front of Italy's magisterial Duomo di Milano, cathedral in Milan, Andrea Bocelli sang “Amazing Grace” on April 12. The renowned Italian classical singer lent his voice to the world on YouTube where his free “Music for hope (Live From Duomo di Milano)” concert was live streamed on Easter Sunday – in the hopes of bringing people together in this unprecedented time of crisis and isolation.

The concert reached over 2.8 million peak concurrent viewers, according to YouTube - making it in the record books for the biggest audience for classical live stream on the platform; and one of the biggest musical live-stream performances of all time. Mr. Bocelli’s Easter concert generated more than 28 million views worldwide in its first 24 hours, and as of Monday it had more than 38 million views. 

Classical music, especially now, seems to be striking a universal chord, be it Ludovico Einaudi  or Yo-Yo Ma’s #songsofcomfort movement

“It was an immeasurable honor and privilege to lend my voice to the prayers of millions of people, gathered in a single embrace – a small, great miracle of which the whole world was the protagonist and which confirms my optimism about the future of our planet,” Mr. Bocelli said in a statement on Wednesday. 

In a new video released on YouTube by Mr. Bocelli’s team on April 16, the clip includes drone footage of several empty cities around the world – including New York, Madrid, Warsaw, Buenos Aires, and more – as Mr. Bocelli sings “Amazing Grace,'' a Christian hymn written by poet and Englishman John Newton in 1772. It's one of the most performed hymns of all time. 

The 24:56 minute Easter concert starts with Mr. Bocelli standing inside the cathedral, accompanied only by organist Emanuele Vianelli. He sang “Ave Maria,” “Panis Angelicus,” and more. But when he steps outside to sing his rendition of “Amazing Grace,” the enormity of the cathedral looms over him, the weight of Milan’s lockdown-emptiness deepens, and the words of the hymn resonate. 

The performance, it seems, speaks to many of us – standing alone or with loved ones in isolation against the backdrop of a global crisis. And it offers a profound sense of calm; a moment to stand still and reflect on our strength and solidarity.  

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.