Belated look at YouTube Symphony finale yields Baltimore connections: Rivas, Jackiw
In the usual whirl that passes for my life, I managed to overlook this year's YouTube Symphony Orchestra.
This remarkable global initiative, launched in 2009, allows musicians from anywhere to audition via YouTube video uploads. The first orchestra gathered in New York to work with celebrated conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, who also guided the 2011 crop of young talent, this time in Sydney.
I was reminded of the recently-concluded Australian program the other day when I ...
bumped into one of its participants at a Baltimore Symphony Orchestra concert -- Ilyich Rivas, the remarkable Venezuelan teenager who is in the second year of his Baltimore Symphony Orchestra/Peabody Conservatory conducting fellowship. He was freshly back from Down Under and still glowing from the experience.
So I figured I should take a look at what the YouTube Symphony had been up to, and found myself one of more than a million folks who had already clicked on the two-hour-plus finale from the Sydney Opera House. If you haven't checked it out, do give it a look and listen. Some great stuff in there, including Renee Fleming singing from afar a Mozart canon with local kids in the Sydney Opera House -- the sort of digital artistic hookup that is such a cool possibility in today's music world.
Thomas does some typically classy conducting in this action-packed finale. There is no one more perfectly suited to mentoring such a 21st-century venture.
Of particular interest to those of us in dear old Baltimore is that Thomas also made room on the podium for Rivas, who does impressive work, too. And in one of his spots conducting the YouTube ensemble, Rivas collaborated with the ever-elegant young violinist Stefan Jackiw, who has been a much-admired guest artist in Baltimore during the past decade, starting with BSO gigs when he was teen.
Here are clips from that recent finale of the YouTube Symphony Orchestra's session in Sydney -- the last movement from Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto with Jackiw, Rivas conducting; and Rivas leading the orchestra in excerpts from Ginastera's irresistible "Estancia":