LEWISTON — When Colin Britt heard the computer-generated violins in the sunny, teen-friendly pop song "Call Me Maybe," he heard a challenge.
The Yale-educated musician and composer from Auburn gave the song a classical music makeover, creating an arrangement with a friend during their free time. More friends gathered on Sept. 3 for a 90-minute video shoot.
Now that video is an Internet hit.
"It's surreal," said Britt, who graduated from Edward Little High School in 2003.
He posted the 4-minute, 27-second clip on YouTube on Sept. 11. By Monday afternoon, the number of views had surpassed 500,000.
The video has played on "The Today Show." Britt has been interviewed by the New York Daily News, and people are calling looking for directions on how they can buy his arrangement and even the recording.
"I can't sell it," Britt said Monday. "I don't own the rights."
The song, performed and co-written by Carly Rae Jepsen, was merely another summer track on his iPod. Like so many others, he thought it was a catchy pop song.
"I work in mostly theater and classical music, but pop music is kind of the fun thing I can listen to when I'm trying to clear my head.
Then the sound of the violins in the song's chorus got him thinking.
"I've been playing around on Finale, which is the composing software I use, just orchestrating pop songs for fun," he said. He began creating an arrangement for an orchestra and choir. A friend, Arienne Abela, helped.
They finished in late August, then sent invitations to friends in Yale's music community, asking them to help make a music video but not divulging the name of the song.
They didn't want to spoil the surprise for the video's launch, and they worried a few people might groan at the flirty little song.
It worked. About 60 people showed up.
They were all dressed in black, as directed, and ready to learn.
"They took this leap of faith with us," Britt said. Abela conducted. Britt stood in the back, playing the glockenspiel. Singers were directed to treated it seriously or with great passion.
"There's a little bit of tongue in cheek about it," he said. "But we all wanted to do a good job."
In just 90 minutes, after three full run-throughs, they were done.
Another friend edited the video and it went live eight days later.
The fuss has caught Britt by surprise.
He had hoped for a bunch of Web hits but he never considered anything more, he said.
Now he's looking into seeing whether there is a way he might publish the arrangement and donate the money to charity.
"We were all volunteering," Britt, who is 27, said. "None of us were making money."
Where will it go?
"I have no idea," he said. "We're just excited that it's gotten all this attention."