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The Surprising Beauty of the YouTube Symphony

Ever think you'd see YouTube videos in Carnegie Hall?

YouTube Symphony at Carnegie Hall

Last night, Google and YouTube presented the premiere of the YouTube Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, a collaborative online effort featuring 96 classical musicians from around the world and chosen from among thousands of applicants via YouTube submissions.

The three-hour concert, conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas, was a "potpourri... of movements and excerpts from 15 wildly diverse works," according to The New York Times. The musicians, whose video bios were projected behind them on the stage, hailed from 30 different countries, and presented a message of unity through music by way of a progressive, if unconventional crowd sourced approach to creating the orchestra.

YouTube Symphony at Carnegie Hall

The group performed after only two real days of virtual rehearsal—albeit long ones, each one lasting from 10am to 9 at night.

The Times review sniffed that orchestral enthusiasts might have found the presentation too light on substance, but the crowd responded enthusiastically to both the audacious and familiar pieces, including Wagner’s "Ride of the Valkyries" and an wild vocal orchestral jam collage to a John Cage arrangement.

If the smile on Google founder Sergey Brin’s face after the performance indicates anything, it looks like The YouTube Orchestra may become a permanent annual fixture on the symphony scene.

With reporting by Mark Borden.