KU grad in YouTube Symphony

Usually, Andy Chester’s YouTube viewing is limited to old Saturday Night Live videos, old late-night talk show interviews and the latest fads the Web is buzzing about.

Now, he can credit the Internet video service with bringing his music career to the next level.

Chester, a 2007 Kansas University graduate now in graduate school at DePaul University in Chicago, has been selected for the first-ever YouTube Symphony. He’s the only tuba in the 200-member orchestra, whose members will represent more than 70 countries.

It worked this way: More than 3,000 musicians from around the world submitted audition videos through YouTube. The musicians with the best entries were chosen for an all-expenses-paid trip next month to New York City to rehearse and perform as one group.

“It’ll be quite an experience, meeting musicians from around the world,” Chester says. “It’s a very YouTube thing, connecting people in the spirit of music.”

Lest you think this is a novelty get-together, consider that the performance is at Carnegie Hall, and the symphony will be led by Michael Tilson Thomas, music director of the renowned San Francisco Symphony.

The rehearsals begin April 12, with a performance April 15. It will be shown on YouTube April 16.

“Classical music has been around for centuries,” says Chester, a native of St. Louis. “I wouldn’t say it’s dying, but it’s getting smaller as the audience ages and certain orchestras go bankrupt. What this is doing is giving it new life — new vitality — and blending classical music with something in pop culture, YouTube. It’s a great way to get more people to experience classical music.”

Watch more videos at the YouTube Symphony site.