Tan DunYouTube and the London Symphony Orchestra, along with a consortium of other organizations, are sponsoring an innovative project to promote classical music through the Internet -- a competition for the chance to play in the specially created YouTube Symphony Orchestra, which will perform on April 15 at New York’s Carnegie Hall, with musicians auditioning by submitting videos to YouTube. The celebrated Chinese American composer Tan Dun, best known for his score for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, has written a five-minute orchestral work that will serve as the audition piece. There are parts for all the standard orchestral instruments, and even musicians who play non-traditional, non-Western instruments are invited to participate by choosing an orchestral part playable on their instrument. Musicians download a copy of their part and practice it while watching a video of the composer conducting it. (The videos for the different instruments are individually tailored, so that the cues the conductor gives are appropriate for each instrument.) The musicians then videotape themselves playing their part, following the conductor’s lead. They also submit a video of a solo performance that shows off their particular musical strengths. A panel will pick the best performances, and the videos of the finalists will be posted on YouTube, so that viewers can vote on their favorites. Conductor Michael Tilson Thomas will pick the winners from the viewers’ top choices. The selected orchestral musicians (probably about 80), as well as additional qualified soloists, will be brought to New York, all expenses paid, for the gala performance. A composite video of Tan Dun’s piece using the submitted videos will also be posted on YouTube.

Here's Tan Dun conducting the London Symphony in his new piece.

Go to YouTube’s official competition page to download your music and submit your performance.

The deadline for submissions is January 29, 2009, so start practicing and take advantage of this incredible opportunity to play in a top-notch orchestra!