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date: 26 February 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The first YouTube Symphony Orchestra was an experiment in gathering musicians of varying ages and locations through the Internet, with users worldwide submitting clips of themselves performing set pieces in 2008. Selected by private judges and YouTube’s users, members of the new ensemble gathered to play for the first time in 2009, in New York. This chapter examines the orchestra’s aspiration to create a democratic and utopian musical playing field supposedly engineered and exemplified by the global reach of new media technologies. It critiques the commercial hype riding the vogue enthusiasm concerning all aspects of “New Media” and technological determinism, and looks at the convergence of new and old media paradigms through changing physicalities emerging in Internet mediation of musical performance. New modes of cultural brokering, coinciding with agenda-laden promotion of YouTube, employ a strategy in which Western art music is presented as a cultural referent symbolic of the “universal.”

Keywords: YouTube, symphony orchestra, cultural referent, new media, virtual community, Western art music

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