By Kristi Casey Sanders
YouTube debuted less than three years ago, but already it has thousands of clips users can e-mail each other, subscribe to and watch. Short video segments of old movies, TV shows, newscasts, comedy bits and homemade films have made “video snacking” for entertainment a cultural phenomenon. YouTube also is an educational tool, especially for students and lovers of classical music, who can use the video site to learn from the technique of maestros, research favorite artists and composers, and find historic recordings of primo musicians, conductors and singers whose work would otherwise be lost.
Take, for example, the wealth of master classes available on the site. Learning the cello? “Take” a master class taught by the famous Catalan cellist Pablo Casals, who was a favorite of Queen Victoria and President Theodore Roosevelt. Prefer the violin? Study the unrivaled technique of Jascha Heifetz, who once was told, “It’s high time you played a wrong note so as not to infuriate the gods.” If he’s not to your taste, use the related videos sidebar to discover other great artists, how they give themselves over to the music, how they technically craft it, and how that speaks to you.
You also can follow a particular artist throughout the course of his or her career. The earliest clip of Itzhak Perlman is of the maestro as a 13-year-old prodigy playing the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto. He resurfaces as a still-pudgy young man, fiddling folk songs and joking backstage with friend and fellow violinist Pinchas Zukerman before their 1976 concert at London’s Royal College of Music. Viewers also can watch performance footage of Perlman’s historic (and emotional) tour of Russia with the Israel Philharmonic, conducted by Zubin Mehta, or a series of more recent clips reflecting the classical superstar status he’s achieved.
Fans of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra will find much of interest on the site as well. Telarc has posted a video of Music Director Robert Spano interviewing Michael Gandolfi about the composer’s Garden of Cosmic Speculation. Spano also appears conducting Dr. Atomic with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and the Marcus Roberts Trio concert with the BBC Scottish Symphony. For trivia hounds, Spano the pianist makes an appearance in an audio clip of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto, with violinist J. Krix.
Pieces of ASO history are captured in videos of the orchestra playing during the1996 Olympic Opening Ceremony, and with Robert Shaw conducting Handel’s Messiah. YouTube videos also hint at the ASO’s future. Watch new Assistant Conductor Mei-Ann Chen become the first woman in 40 years to win the Nicolai Malko Competition for Young Conductors in Copenhagen; her off-the-cuff ability to lead the orchestra through H.C. Lumbye’s playful Champagne Galop gives a glimpse of exciting new roads awaiting Atlanta’s symphonic treasure.