Have you ever heard of the YouTube Symphony Orchestra?
I’d heard of it the first time it was created in 2009, and missed it this time round – almost. I was doing my morning twitter-check this morning when I saw the Sydney Opera House was trending. I may not be from Sydney, but it’s a damned sight closer to my home city of Mackay than the Brandenburg Gate, so I became curious. To my surprise I discovered this year’s YouTube Symphony’s grand finale was taking place at that very moment and being broadcast live out into the great world of YouTube. So I tuned in.
I was ridiculuously impressed.
I was impressed for a number of reasons. Firstly, the music was fantastic. I am not a professional musician; indeed, I am very out of practise. But I played in an orchestra in my youth and as a result have a deep respect for such music and people who create and perform it today. I am especially impressed and, yes, happy, when I see young people playing in orchestras. It kind of makes me feel like not all is yet lost in society. There are still people of my generation and the next who succumb to the magic of classical music. There’s something very innocent and good about it.
I was also impressed by the medium through which the whole orchestra and concert was brought together. Musicians from thirty-three countries uploaded videos of themselves to YouTube in order to be chosen to participate in the orchestra. I find the idea astonishing: One is involved in one’s own life and world, one’s own music; then suddenly in an orchestra full of strangers. Not only is this one person new, but all are strangers to each other. Music is the things that binds them.
It’s a little far-fetched to say that without social media, these people might never have met. But it’s unlikely to have been in this form, in this dimension. In any case, it’s a brilliant example of social media bringing people together in the ‘real’ world. And what will be the common thread holding these people together on their return home to their respective countries, their respective worlds and lives? It will still be music, for sure. But the friendships, which will stretch countries and continents – it will inevitably be social media that helps to sustain them.