Auburn musician aims for repeat of viral video’s success

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Three months after Auburn native Colin Britt helped create a viral video — by arranging a choral and orchestral version of the teen pop anthem “Call Me Maybe” — he’s at it again.

This time, he and his gang of Yale University musicians have created a choral and orchestral take on the 1984 holiday song “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”

Will it get his last video’s 2.3 million hits?

Probably not, said Britt, who graduated from Edward Little High School in Auburn in 2003. But he is hoping that the creation will raise some money for an agency that feeds people: Act Against Hunger.

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“We should be using our art, no matter how serious or playful it may be, to help important causes,” Britt said. If enough people visit the video, a few will learn about the charity and help.

They will also be treated to a video that’s a little more polished than the previous one.

Britt created both arrangements with his friend, Arienne Abela, also an arranger and composer from the Yale music community. Together the collaborators formed the volunteer 3Penny Orchestra, inviting friends to join them until the total of singers and musicians reached about 60 people. On Sept. 11, they debuted their cover version of the Carly Rae Jepsen song. Within a few days, hits reached 500,000.

Then, NBC’s “Today” show called.

“It definitely did feel like a 15-minutes-of-fame thing,” said Britt, who was interviewed live on the nationally televised program.

Most of the notoriety has subsided, but Britt is hoping to recapture it with the second effort.

They chose the Christmas tune because it is popular but rarely covered by other artists. Of course, the song featured performers, including Bono, Sting and Duran Duran, and held the title of top-selling single in British history until Elton John mourned Princess Diana with “Candle in the Wind.”

The video, which is a less surprising mix of pop song and orchestra than “Call Me Maybe,” aims to be popular.

It debuted on YouTube on Dec. 19 and has more than 1,700 hits.

He hopes, like the song itself, it’s merely a quiet start.

“The song does build in the same way that the original does,” Britt said.

dhartill@sunjournal.com

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