YouTube auditions open for Sydney Opera House gig

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The last decade has seen a surge in the popularity of talent shows such as The X Factor and Australia's Got Talent.

However, classical performers have often been overlooked in favour of more 'consumable' pop and variety acts with a wider appeal.

YouTube is hoping to change this with the announcement of the Australian version of the YouTube Symphony, open to performers of classical music throughout Australia.

This collaborative project to present classical music in new ways and contexts builds from the inaugural YouTube Symphony Orchestra, which gathered 90 musicians from 30 countries to perform at New York City's Carnegie Hall in April 2009.

In Sydney, the YouTube Orchestra will again be conducted by Grammy Award-winner and music director of the San Francisco Symphony Michael Tilson Thomas, with the March 20 show from the Opera House streamed live globally on YouTube.

To be considered, both amateur and professional musicians from around the world are invited to upload audition videos of designated pieces to demonstrate their musical and technical abilities. To help entrants prepare for the auditions, The London Symphony Orchestra, the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and other leading orchestras are creating a series of instructional "master class" videos, which are available on the YouTube Symphony site.

In a change this year to make classical music more "radically inclusive", an improvisation segment has been added. Soloists on any type of instrument can submit an original improvisation based on "Mothership", a new work composed for the YouTube Symphony by the Chicago Symphony's composer-in-residence Mason Bates.

There are two improv sections -- lyrical and jazz -- and four improv musicians will be selected to join the 96 in the orchestra to play their own solo during the final performance.

Furthermore, as part of the effort to what Sydney Opera House CEO Richard Evans calls "democratising creativity", the YouTube community will be able to vote online for their favourite performers. The semi-finalists will first be selected from all YouTube entries by an expert panel from leading orchestras around the world.

YouTube will close the video auditions on November 28 2010. Community voting for the winners from the selected semi-finalists will take place from December 10 - 17, with those chosen for a flight to Sydney announced on January 11 2011.

Full details, including the scores, master class videos and FAQs can be found at youtube.com/symphony.

Peter Allott contributed to this report.