In 2009, YouTube Symphony held the first open call for audition videos. The entire project was brand new and very much untested. I thought it was a fascinating concept, use YouTube to find musicians from the entire globe then bring the winners to New York for a concert in Carnegie Hall with MTT.
I loved the idea of creating a global community of classical musicians, of creating relationships through an on-line medium. I decided to enter. Thus began my crash course in YouTube. I had to find a way to record myself that I could upload easily, then I had to develop my channel. It was a very steep learning curve. I didn't make the finals that go around, but I did launch my tutorials. I've been doing videos ever since and I've made incredible connections with people.
Oboists from all over the world have contacted me. We've had dialogues about music and reedmaking and every topic under the sun. My life is richer because of this project. I've met composers and music enthusiasts. I've even participated in some long-distance projects.
Naturally, when they announced YouTube Symphony II, I felt compelled to throw my hat in the ring again. I had a strategy to correct some of the mistakes I made the last time around. I found a better space and a better camera so the acoustics would be better.
The challenge came with the preparation of the excerpts. Even though I've played them a million times, when you're recording your perception changes. You start listening so critically that it becomes difficult to just play. It's like I have this secret hidden super-power called micromode. Every nuance of pitch and timbre and rhythm get dissected and your confidence gets shredded in the process. I became convinced that it was beyond me to create any recording I'd be willing to enter.
Thankfully, I've been down this path before. I was able to recognize my own ridiculousness and convince myself to simply follow through and complete the recording. I made a conscious decision to finish it then I dragged my inner critic kicking and screaming into the church to play.
I recorded both excerpts right off the bat in order to make sure I had at least one take of each on record. Then I listened back and realized there might be some things that sounded ok. That gave me the energy to keep going. At the end of the session, I had several choices for each piece. I wound up really enjoying the process of trying to let go and play as musically as possible. Above all else, I wanted my performance to be enjoyable to the listener and to show my playing the way you would hear it in a concert.
I feel I was able to achieve that. None of my takes were flawless, but I think they're an accurate account of who I am as an English horn player.
Ultimately, I found a few different takes that I liked for each excerpt. At that point, I turned complete control over to my incredible husband who was willing to be my second set of ears. I trust his judgement, and I knew he wouldn't let me submit the recording if it didn't reflect an accurate picture of my abilities. He actually chose a different take than I did for the Roman Carnival (we agreed on the Dvorak). I used his choice and have ultimately come to agree with him that it was the best plan.
Now I'm waiting to hear if I'll be selected as a finalist. I certainly hope I am, but even if I'm not I'm really glad I applied. The best part was Sunday morning, when I woke up to a slew of supportive comments from other viewers. It feels really good to know that people have enjoyed listening. That's why I love this project. MTT and the YouTube Symphony really have created a global on-line community for our art form. It's amazing and it's happening right alongside videos of kittens falling off of Roombas. How cool is that?