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A breakdown of the 2011 YouTube Symphony winners

January 11, 2011 |  2:02 pm

The creation of the YouTube Symphony two years ago was intended to marry the populist, borderless ethos of online culture with the highly competitive nature of the classical-music world. The 2011 class of winners announced Tuesday shows that the YouTube Symphony continues to pull talent from the far ends of the globe, but in the end, U.S.-based musicians dominated the playing field.

The 2011 YouTube Symphony comprises 101 musicians from more than 30 different countries, ranging in age from 14 to 49 years old. The selection process involved an online audition period on YouTube last fall, from which 300 finalists from 46 countries were chosen.

The orchestra will have 97 members plus four improvisational soloists for a Mason Bates piece to be performed at the Sydney Opera House. The previous YouTube Symphony Orchestra had 96 members.

Winners are scheduled to arrive in Australia for a week of rehearsals and concerts from March 14 to 20, with a final performance on March 20 that will be live-streamed online. Conductor Michael Tilson Thomas will lead the orchestra, as he did in 2009 in New York.

The most represented country in the orchestra was the U.S., with 43 musicians, followed by Australia, Canada and Italy with five each. But some of those were foreign students who used the country in which they are studying.

Organizers didn't provide a median age for the orchestra, but the winners skewed young, with many in their 20s. The youngest was Stepan Grytsay, a 14-year-old violinist from Argentina, while the oldest was 49-year-old Marco Granados, a New York flutist. 

Of the U.S. winners, the top states represented were New York and California, with seven musicians each, followed by Texas, with six. Again, some of the winners are students who used the states in which they are studying.

The California winners were: Andrew Chilcote, double bass, from Irvine (seen in the video above); Anna Witstruck, cello, from Stanford;  Daniel Sharp, piccolo, from San Francisco; Junqi Tang, violin, from Los Angeles; Leyan Lo, violin, from Stanford; Omar Shelly, viola, from San Francisco; and Stephanie Lai, cello, from Palo Alto.

YouTube, which is owned by Google, is the primary organizer of the orchestra along with the London Symphony Orchestra, Berliner Philharmoniker, Sydney Symphony and others.


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-- David Ng

Photo (top): Michael Tilson Thomas rehearses with the first YouTube Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall in New York in 2009. Credit: Stefan Cohen / Associated Press

Photo (bottom): Michael Tilson Thomas. Credit: Bebeto Matthews / Associated Press