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Top Five Classical Memes, Hashtags and Videos in 2012

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The classical music world wasn’t about to let some of the biggest online memes pass it by in 2012, and also contributed a few of its own niche hashtags to the Twitter conversation and at least one viral video almost guaranteed to make you tear up.

Memes are those often funny or touching videos and photos that pass on an idea, each with a new flourish (think Grumpy Cat or Texts from Hillary). From an orchestral version of the year’s biggest earworm “Call Me Maybe,” to a World Series rivalry fueled on Twitter, here are our five favorite memes, Twitter hashtags and viral videos of 2012 — all with a classical touch.

Gangnam Style Meets Stravinsky
The pop song “Gangnam Style” by South Korean musician PSY isn’t just a global smash hit, it’s the first video ever to have been viewed more than a billion times on YouTube. President Obama has attempted PSY’s signature dance moves, school marching bands have made it part of their repertoire and with some clever editing, Richard Atkinson has cut the video to Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring.”

'Call Me Maybe' For Choir and Orchestra
Nearly as ubiquitous at “Gangnam Style” this year was Canadian pop singer Carly Rae Jepsen’s undeniably catchy hit “Call Me Maybe,” which curiously launched a slew of parodies ranging from lip-synching Olympic athletes to an NPR newsroom spoken-word medley. A version for orchestra and choir was uploaded to YouTube by conductor and composer Colin Britt on Sept. 11, and has since had more than 2 million views. According to Britt’s website, the song was performed by the 3Penny Chorus and Orchestra, a volunteer pick-up ensemble in New Haven, Conn. (who were then invited to perform it on the Today Show).


Classical Bands
In July, the hashtag #classicalbands had a brief moment of trending topic glory when classical music fans took to Twitter to mash up names of classical composers with band names from other music genres. The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto appears to have started the trend, WQXR’s Brian Wise wrote. A few of our favorites:

Royal Conservatory ‏@the_rcm
Franz Liszt Ferdinand

Ronni Reich ‏@RonniReich
Bellini & Sebastian

OrchestraofSt.Luke's ‏@OSLmusic
Bright Ives

Orpheus Chamber Orch ‏@OrpheusNYC
St. Matthew Passion Pit

Royal Conservatory ‏@the_rcm
Bachstreet Boys

Daniel Davidzon ‏@thedanield
Bob Mahler and The Wailers

Joe Guarr ‏@jguarr
The Pet Chopin Boys

Orpheus Chamber Orch ‏@OrpheusNYC
Modest Mussorgsky Mouse

Daniel Gilliam @danielgilliam
The Holst Steady


Classical World Series
Another Twitter hashtag that caught our eye was #classicalworldseries. As the San Francisco Giants and Detroit Tigers were battling it out on the ballfield, the orchestras in their respective cities were engaged in a little bit of friendly rivalry via Twitter and Facebook. It was @DetroitSymphony vs. @SFSymphony. And with the Giants making a clean sweep of the series, to the San Francisco Symphony went the spoils of the online bet: a box of treats from Detroit.


Landfill Harmonic

Earlier this month, a three-and-a-half-minute video went viral across Facebook and Twitter feeds as people shared and re-shared the trailer for an upcoming documentary called "Landfill Harmonic." The film is about Cateura, a town in Paraguay built on top of a landfill, where there is now a youth orchestra that plays instruments literally made out of trash. The trailer ends with Favio Chavez, the orchestra director, saying “People realize that we shouldn’t throw away trash carelessly. Well, we shouldn’t throw away people either.”It’s OK, we teared-up, too.