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Birds of a feather tweet together

More than 300 musicians answer Twitter call to help record orchestral work.

April 04, 2013|By Michael Miller

If Chip Michael's orchestra ever plays a massive concert hall, the members may need an hour before curtain time to get acquainted with each other.

For that matter, they may need to say hello to their conductor, too.

Michael, the web coordinator for the Pacific Symphony, launched a project last March that brings musicians together through social media. The campaign, known as TwtrSymphony, initially sought a makeshift orchestra to play a composition of Michael's — and it succeeded, as more than 300 musicians answered the call.

Now, the creator is hoping to raise enough funds to create a CD in which the same group spotlights other fledgling composers' work. And he has about $17,000 more to go.

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"We believe the power of TwtrSymphony is the power of social media," said Michael, a Westminster resident.

From now until April 27, TwtrSymphony is aiming to raise $20,000 on the donation website Kickstarter. As of Thursday, the campaign had garnered $2,264 in pledges from 40 backers. But even if Kickstarter doesn't work, Michael is intent on funding his project one way or another.

The TwtrSymphony saga began last year on a whim. Michael, who had written a short piano concerto, remarked to a group of friends that he wished he had an orchestra to play it. His friends suggested a novel approach: put a call for musicians on Twitter, have them record their parts separately and then piece them together in the studio.

That's "friends," incidentally, in the electronic sense.

Alexis Del Palazzo, part of the conversation that birthed TwtrSymphony, lives in Pennsylvania and has never met Michael in person. Through the music scene, Michael located and started following Del Palazzo — or was it the other way around? As is often the case with social media, Del Palazzo and Michael couldn't quite remember.

Regardless, she found the concept intriguing, and she felt giddy when she found the TwtrSymphony handle the next morning.

"There are so many great ideas put out on Twitter, and most of the time, because of the stream-of-consciousness thing, they never come to fruition," Del Palazzo said. "So it's very interesting to see what Chip has done with the idea."

Michael had one problem with his composition: He realized that a concerto, which often features improvisation by soloists, would best be recorded with the musicians in one room. So instead, he wrote a short symphony, "Birds of a Feather," as TwtrSymphony's debut piece.

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