Summer 2011

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YouTube Symphony Down Under

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Danny Lai

Danny Lai on Sydney Harbour

With a little luck, a lot of talent and a YouTube account, junior music students Julia Yang and Danny Lai each earned a spot in the 2011 YouTube Symphony Orchestra for a concert at the Sydney Opera House during Northwestern’s spring break in March. Yang, who plays cello, and Lai, who plays viola, joined 99 other musicians, including clarinetist Michael Rezzo (BSM08), in the orchestra for a week of master classes and community concerts in Sydney before the big show. Yang and Lai were among the thousands of musicians who submitted their online auditions for the second YouTube Symphony Orchestra. Expert judges narrowed the contenders to 336 finalists. Online voting and considerations by conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, Grammy Award–winning director of the San Francisco Symphony, determined the final selections — 101 musicians from 33 countries. Yang said she appreciated the opportunity to learn from the YouTube Symphony Orchestra mentors — artistic directors and principal players from some of the world’s best ensembles. “I was inspired by the thought, passion and dedication that each of the players devoted to classical music,” Yang said.