From guerrilla choruses to Gaga getups, 2010 has seen more musicians using online video to showcase a less predictable and more approachable type of classical music. And their efforts were rewarded with millions of views from around the world. Here are our top five (plus a few bonus selections) YouTube viral videos of the year:
1. Food Court Handel
What happens when people spontaneously sing the Messiah’s Hallelujah chorus in a mall food court? People perk up from their holiday haze and pay attention both in the mall and online. The clip has attracted over 25 million viewers since its debut on YouTube one month ago.
2. Italian Market Opera
What happens when an opera company starts singing Act I of Verdi’s La Traviata in an Italian market in Philadelphia. The same thing as singing Handel in food courts, and Carmen in a Florence market for that matter. It goes viral. It seems that performing classical music in non-classical settings is a surefire way to get online attention.
3. String Quartet def. Champions League Match
On the other hand, the same attention can come when classical music proves a foil for a soccer game-watching party. In a Heineken-sponsored hoax, over a thousand boyfriends, students and journalists proved their dedication to their girlfriends, professors and bosses when they sacrificed watching a Champions League game between AC Milan and Real Madrid to go to a classical music concert. (We may wish that the music were reward for itself, but instead it was the game and beer).
4. King Worship
Before LeBron James blew the Cleveland Cavaliers’ NBA title chances, made his Decision to join the Heat and broke many an Ohioans’ heart, an entire area code had worshipped this basketball player, including its world-class symphony orchestra. Last spring, the orchestra sent King James a Carmina Burana-scored love note as he led the Cavs into the playoffs.
5. Lady Gaga Saga
With a name like Breaking Wind, the four female bassoonists in the Eastman school-based ensemble must have a wicked sense of humor. When the quartet performed a fully choreographed Lady Gaga medley in full regalia (wigs, shades and lots of sparkles) it wasn’t just funny; it was inspired.
• Jason Bateman is obsessed with classical music.
• The New York Philharmonic’s odd couple: Alan Gilbert and death as the orchestra prepared for Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre.
• The YouTube Symphony Orchestra continued to build upon a successful 2009.