NEW YORK (Reuters) - The video-sharing website YouTube will take classical music out of pricey concert halls and bring it to the masses by holding an online competition where the public chooses musicians to play at Carnegie Hall.
The competition invites classical musicians around the world to submit two videos demonstrating their musical and technical abilities, YouTube said in a news release on Monday.
Winners from the competition will be flown to New York for a three-day summit with San Francisco Symphony music director Michael Tilson Thomas, Chinese pianist Lang Lang and other performers leading up to an April 15, 2009, Carnegie Hall show.
Entries will be narrowed down by a panel of judges from the world's leading orchestras, including London, Berlin, Hong Kong, Sydney and New York, before semi-finalists will be voted on by viewers of YouTube, which is owned by Google.
Tilson Thomas said the program would "explore new ways for music lovers of all levels to use technology to discover how vast our tradition is."
Entrants must submit a video demonstrating their interpretation of an original composition by Chinese contemporary classical composer Tan Dun, and a video showcasing their musical and technical strengths.
"YouTube is the biggest stage on Earth, and I want to see what the world's undiscovered musical geniuses will create on it," said Dun, the Oscar-winning composer of the film "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon."
Entrants can submit videos through January 28, 2009. YouTube viewers will vote on the semi-finalists February 14-22 and the winners will be announced on the YouTube website (www.youtube.com) on March 2.
YouTube's popularity has exploded since its inception three years ago. Anyone can post video to the site.
YouTube, which analysts estimate will bring in $200 million to $250 million for Google this year, has launched several recent e-commerce initiatives, including television and movie pacts and live event Web casting.
Other institutions participating in the site's classical music program include Amsterdam School of Music, Liceu Barcelona, Moscow Conservatory, Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and others.
(Reporting by Christine Kearney, editing by Michelle Nichols)