A couple of University of Memphis grad students are proving that you don't have to be on the same stage — or even in the same country — to play music together.
Ionut Cosarca and Liviu Craciun, both originally from Romania, have collaborated with more than 100 young musicians from around the world to create a "virtual symphony."
Their virtual symphony video, which was recorded and performed by musicians from more than 30 countries, has reached more than 11,000 hits on YouTube over the last couple of weeks.
What originally began as a small project between Cosarca and Craciun at the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music at the University of Memphis quickly grew to unexpected popularity.
"Craciun recorded the first violin and viola parts, and I played the second violin and the cello part on a viola," Cosarca said. "We put [our recordings] together with some video and audio editing, and in the end it sounded like a string quartet."
In the beginning, the recording was only of Craciun and Cosarca, but they decided to invite friends from Romania and other countries to join. From there, they realized they could do a virtual orchestra that would allow a lot of people to cooperate on a single piece.
"We were originally thinking about doing an arrangement of a pop rock song," said Cosarca, "like something from Radiohead."
But something a bit more baroque, Pachelbel's Canon in D, was in the cards for Cosarca and Craciun, and the virtual symphony project became a means of advocating classical music to young musicians around the world.
Nearly all of the collaborating musicians are between 10 and 20 years old and joined the project through Cosarca and Craciun's social media campaign.
"We created a website, littlesymphony.com, as well as a Facebook page and a YouTube channel and started sending messages to musicians," Cosarca said. "We posted the musical part on the Facebook page along with instructions and a metronome beat."
Soon, dozens of musicians from around the world joined in on the collaboration, far surpassing the pair's expectations.
"People just started recording their parts and submitting them, and they got more and more involved as time passed by," Cosarca said. "Initially, we were only expecting to get around 20 or 30 musicians."
In the opening minute of the video, each musician and a conductor is shown on-screen, arranged in a way that resembles a symphony onstage. This dissolves to show a handful of musicians at a time, labeled by their country of origin. The video can be viewed on littlesymphony.com and YouTube.
Cosarca and Craciun expect to begin working on their next virtual symphony project within two months.
"For our next project, we hope to get more musicians involved," Cosarca said, "and we're thinking about doing a piece by either Bach or Beethoven."