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2011 Corporate Media Release - YouTube Symphony Orchestra 2011

Media release – Wednesday 12 January, 2011  

Four Australians selected to join 97 musicians from around the world to take part in the YouTube Symphony Orchestra 2011

Four talented young Australians are amongst 101 successful musicians selected after a global online audition to perform in You Tube Symphony Orchestra at the Sydney Opera House in March.

YouTube Symphony Orchestra 2011 is a partnership with London Symphony Orchestra, Berliner Philharmoniker, Sydney Symphony, and other leading institutions of the classical music world.  Presented by Hyundai.

(NEW YORK, NY – January 12, 2011) — YouTube today announces that 101 musicians from 33 countries have been selected to form YouTube Symphony Orchestra 2011 (YTSO2011). Amongst the successful musicians to play at the 20 March concert are four Australians including violinist Rollin Zhao (Qld), cellist Mathisha Panagoda (NSW), timpani player Brent Miller (Toowoomba), and electric double bass player John Burgess (ACT). (Further information on Australian musicians follows.)

97 members and four soloists aged from 14 – 49 years make up the YTSO2011 Orchestra. They include amateur and professional musicians, students and teachers and some who have never set foot out of their home country. For more information on the orchestra members and soloists, visit

Burgess will be one of four soloists at who will perform an improvisation of a work specially created for the YTSO2011 by American composer Mason Bates. Invited to audition on the instrument of their choice, the other soloists selected performed on electric guitar (Brazil), violin (USA), and the guzheng (China).

When told of his successful audition timpani player Brent Miller expressed his delight. “There are limited opportunities for me to play the timpani and this experience will realise my life-long-dream to perform in one of the world’s most iconic concert halls. I am looking forward to enjoying this journey with the other 100 musicians,” said Brent.

This March, all YTSO2011 musicians will be flown to the Sydney Opera House to participate in a week-long classical music summit with Grammy Award-winning conductor Michael Tilson Thomas and leading performers, culminating in a final concert on 20 March which will be streamed live on YouTube.

“Applicants for this year’s YouTube Symphony Orchestra have been truly outstanding,” noted Michael Tilson Thomas, Conductor and Artistic Advisor. “It has been inspiring to listen to such excellent music-making by people from all over the world, and to see the great reaction from the online community to the auditions.  I am looking forward to getting together with everybody in March and creating a fine orchestra.”

A panel of international musical experts selected over 300 finalists from 46 countries based on skill and technique. Nine orchestras around the world participated in the judging, including London Symphony Orchestra, Berliner Philharmoniker and Sydney Symphony.  During a week of online voting in December, the YouTube user community gave their input on the finalists. Online votes were then taken into consideration by Michael Tilson Thomas in selecting the final orchestra. 

The YTSO2011 experience will focus on celebrating musical education, from online master classes with orchestras and leading international musical leaders, to classes and improvised session for musicians during the summit week.   

YouTube Symphony Orchestra is one of several collaborative efforts by YouTube to push the boundaries of music, art, and film.  Along with the film project, Life in a Day, and YouTube Play - a collaboration with the Guggenheim Museum, YouTube Symphony Orchestra is an example of the convergence of online video with more traditional art forms.

Media contact:   
Steven Reilly, Sydney Opera House / 02 9250 7411 /

Australian Winners

Brent Miller -- Timpani (Qld)

Brent has worked nationally and internationally as a professional Timpanist and Percussionist with orchestras including Orchestra Victoria, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Orchestra Ensemble Kanazawa (Japan).  He is currently completing a Bachelor of Music degree at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music in Brisbane.

Brent loves Romantic era and 20th century classical music like Shostakovich, Mahler and Tchaikovsky, and is attempting to perfect the art of 're-felting' his own timpani mallets.

Rollin Zhao -- Violin (Qld)

Rollin started learning violin when he was two: so devoted to his musical study, Rollin could read music before he could read words!  He loves classical music and is thrilled to be in the YouTube Symphony Orchestra.  Rollin heralds from Brisbane, on Australia’s east coast.

Mathisha Panagoda -- Cello (SYD)

Mathisha has toured Europe and China with the Australian Youth Orchestra, and had lots of exciting opportunities to showcase his music, including performing at the Sydney 2000 Olympics!

He has established his own chamber orchestra in Sydney, the Sydney Camerata, which is made up of young, talented musicians from around the country who come together a few times a year to live and work together and put on concerts for the public.

John Burgess -- Bass (ACT)

John was born in Queensland, Australia but grew up in the rural Mid North Coast.  He now lives in the Australian Capital Territory. He began to take an interest in music at age 9, first on piano, then soon after picked up the bass guitar.  He loves to learn and grow, and hopes to continually improve his performances.


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