Win on YouTube, Play at Carnegie Hall

Filed under: In The News

Let's face it: When given the choice between even the most stunning performance of Elgar's cello concerto and, say, a singing contortionist, television audiences are likely to choose the latter.

But there's a new opportunity for talented Americans who are classical musicians to be heard -- and the prize is a solo performance in Carnegie Hall.

"From the Top," an NPR radio broadcast that showcases young musicians, has teamed up with Carnegie Hall to present Big Break. Musicians between the ages of 8 and 18 are invited to post a video of themselves performing a solo classical piece to before Nov. 18. Musicians younger than 13 must have a parent or guardian submit their entry.

The competition came about after officials at Carnegie Hall found itself with a YouTube channel and the capacity to run competitions on it. They pondered who might make the best partner and decided it was the folks at "From the Top."

"They are all about finding and nurturing and promoting the best young talent," Carnegie Hall's Executive and Artistic Director Clive Gillenson tells ParentDish, adding that the YouTube platform was a win-win. "It enabled them to reach out much more broadly for recruiting and finding the best talent."

"From the Top" already receives close to 2,000 applications each year from kids who want to appear on the radio show, and the hope is that Big Break will broaden their reach, says Erin MacCurtain, communications director for the NPR show. As Gillenson says, "A competition is a good way of engaging people."

The scope of YouTube will allow kids who might not have access to Carnegie Hall or listen to NPR to participate. That, says Gillenson, "is absolutely central to the way we think about everything. How do you try to reach the greatest number of kids with music, so it can be a part of their life?"

As entries come in, they are posted to the YouTube gallery, where the public can see the first of the performers now. After the Nov. 18 deadline, judges from Carnegie Hall and "From the Top" will pick a pool of finalists, and the public will be able to vote for the contestant they think should win. Public voting will begin in late November and end on Dec. 14.

The winners will perform in a Carnegie Hall Family Concert in Zankel Hall on April 9, 2011, and will appear with "From the Top" host Christopher O'Riley. Tickets for the concert at Carnegie Hall will go on sale Jan. 14.


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