On the small screen

A netting of scuttlebutt:

Announcing the YouTube Symphony Orchestra. Upload a video of yourself playing a newly-commissioned piece by Tan Dun, and you can be part of some sort of grand mash-up; if other viewers vote you worthy, you can go to New York for a three-day Carnegie Hall workshop in 2009—conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas:

Thomas cheerfully conceded that much of the actual planning for the April concert is still up in the air. It depends, he says, on who emerges from the audition project.

For that matter, the entire program still has plenty of serendipity built into its genetic makeup. Asked what might constitute a success for the YouTube Symphony Orchestra, [YouTube product marketing manager Ed] Sanders sounded open to just about anything.

“There are lots of ways it could go. If we were to have this conversation again in six months’ time, I think the most successful tangents this might go on would be ones that were impossible to predict today.”

Wait a minute—technology people using the phrase “impossible to predict” in reference to their creation? Isn’t that the linchpin of every movie James Cameron’s ever made? Yes, I see no way this can end badly. (I can still watch pirated opera excerpts, though, right?)

Congratulations to composer Brett Dean, now brainstorming just how he can leverage his Grawemeyer award into keeping the bald guy from Midnight Oil from shutting down the Australian National Academy of Music.

Condoleezza Rice plays piano for the Queen of England. Always Brahms with this woman! Well, some people do respond to stress by eating.

Isaac Stern’s son, new director of the Israeli Opera, will maintain the Wagner ban.

The Boston Symphony Orchestra, having started their own record label, is now offering downloads on their website. Choose your format: 320 Kbs mp3 or, for newer stuff, Windows Media HD Surround Sound. I don’t have a surround-sound set-up, so I can’t comment on that, and the Java-based download manager kept telling me that a couple of movements of Bartok weren’t on the server. (No access to the “Intermezzo interotto”—maybe it’s supposed to be ironic.) On the other hand, the prices aren’t bad, and seeing how I’m currently listening to the world premiere of Bernstein’s Symphony no. 2, with the composer at the piano and Koussevitzky conducting (“The Masque” is nearly flying apart at the seams in exciting fashion), I can definitely see the upside. (Update (12/2): Geoff Edgers gets the details.)


  1. Schumann and Shostakovich, too, based on news reports—but her public performances seem limited to Johannes.Given her family history, I think the president-elect would happily settle for Clinton to essay Carter rather than, say, Verdi.


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