13 times breathtaking classical music pops up in unexpected places

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From a piano on an arctic glacier to a washing machine playing Fauré, we celebrate some of the strangest situations in which classical music has unexpectedly graced our ears.

Classical music seems more at ease in concert halls, in school recitals and on the airwaves of specialized radios. Law?

No, say these stunning examples of music creation in unexpected places.

Classical music, in fact, can surprise us and be enjoyed in any space imaginable, as these fearless, innovative and inspiring performers have demonstrated.

From the daring to the downright bizarre, here are some of the most spectacular times we’ve heard wonderful classical music in totally unexpected places.

  • A piano recital in the arctic

    This pianist headed for the northernmost point on Earth and reared up for a piano concert of polar proportions.

    In 2016, pianist and composer Ludovico Einaudi performed an epic premiere of his piano piece Elegy for the Arctic on a specially constructed ‘iceberg’ within 100 meters of a ruined glacier, to help raise awareness of melting ice in the region.

    Read more: Einaudi plays piano on iceberg as arctic glacier collapses around him

  • In the beeps and tones of your kitchen appliances

    From the far room to the most frequented and comforting room in your home: the kitchen. These musicians took pleasure in showing us how often classic masterpieces pop up in the beeps and beeps of household appliances.

    This cellist has discovered that the descending notes of her instant cooker perfectly mirror those of a Bach cello suite.

    And a few people have noticed that the chord that their washing machine is ready is actually the serene opening organ triad of French composer Fauré’s “In Paradisum”.

    This guyThe washing machine’s playing a whole bunch of Schubert’s, and these geniuses took matters into their own hands when they used the machine to perform some of their favorite music ever written: “Hedwig’s Theme” by John Williams from Harry potter soundtracks.

    Read more: A definitive ranking of the most magical Harry Potter themes

  • Sublime cello in a national park

    Beloved cellist Yo-Yo Ma took his classical instrument out into the great outdoors and surprised passers-by at Acadia National Park in Maine, USA, with an unexpected recital in nature in June 2021.

    One performance saw the cellist bow to the rope at Otter Point, overlooking the water with biting and howling gulls, while another performance was seen by visitors to the Jordan Pond House lawn in the site of very crowded beauty.

    Read more: Cellist Yo-Yo Ma surprised passers-by in a scenic national park, as music and nature are one.

    Yo-Yo Ma plays his cello in Acadia National Park in Maine, USA.

    Photo: Sam Mallon / Friends of Acadia


  • In popular TV soap operas

    In 2009, violinist and conductor André Rieu made an appearance on the longtime Australian soap, Neighbors.

    In what is surely one of the strangest Neighbors there have been stories, the dutch maestro gets out of a limousine at the behest of Paul Robinson, who seeks to surprise and re-court Rebecca.

    Rieu then delights the characters and viewers by serenading them with his violin, and soon a few Ramsay Street regulars came out of their house to pair up and join in on it all, waltzing in Blue danube with full orchestral accompaniment which, we assume, is played, um, somewhere off-screen.

  • Completely underwater

    In 2018, the Sydney Festival hosted the world’s first underwater group.

    The avant-garde Danish ensemble Between Music has developed instruments and techniques that can be played by fully immersed musicians, working closely with scientists and scuba divers.

    This is not the first time that instruments have been immersed in water. This cellist took his instrument underwater for a spellbinding photoshoot. And these divers climbed the depths to feast on us The little Mermaid music played under the real sea.

  • On top of the tallest building in Europe

    In 2019, the London Mozart Players (LMP) grabbed every member unafraid of heights and climbed Europe’s tallest building for a gravity-defying Mozart concert.

    Musicians performed Mozart’s Symphony No. 41, “Jupiter” atop the iconic building to celebrate LMP’s 70th anniversary.

    Read more: An orchestra performed a Mozart symphony in the tallest building in Europe and it was breathtaking

  • In an epic and expertly executed flashmob

    Flashmobs have been around long enough now that we understand what they are. One or two wandering people unexpectedly embark on a seemingly spontaneous performance in a public place, and more and more people join the scene until the whole scene turns into a well-planned frenzy of music, singing and / or dancing.

    But when it’s classical music, you can’t help but get excited again. The orchestral flashmobs have delighted thousands of people around the world, but this one which took place in the Spanish town of Sabadell still attracts us. It’s Beethoven, it’s happy, and it’s brilliant.

    Read more: This absolutely epic Beethoven ‘Ode to Joy’ flashmob is still the greatest

  • At the muddiest music festival in the world

    In 2004, and again in 2011, the English National Opera was headlining at the famous Glastonbury Festival.

    Storming the iconic Pyramid Stage, the opera company dazzled festival-goers with the music of Wagner Die Walküre, which includes the theme made famous as the Apocalypse now music, and in 2011 drew the “largest audience ever for opera in Britain”, according to The independentt.

    English National Opera perform the Ride of the Valkyries by Wagner on the Pyramid Stage at the Glastonbury Festival

    The English National Opera performs Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries on the Pyramid Stage at the Glastonbury Festival.

    Image: Alamy


  • Accompaniment of a nearby car alarm

    From good neighbors (see # 4, above) to bad, this pianist was struck by a moment of inspiration when she decided to turn a current car alarm of an annoyance, into a moment of harmony.

    Writer and critic Andrea Long Chu, who is also an amateur pianist, brought a moment of beauty to quarantined neighbors when she transformed someone’s infuriating and neglected car alarm into an improvised piece of music.

    Read more: Pianist harmonizes with car alarm, creates the perfect quarantine soundtrack

  • In a quartet of helicopters

    As and when transported, helicopters have a certain glamor.

    And in 1995 the Arditti quartet added a pinch of music to their helicopter tours – we say ‘tours’, because the four musicians were each in a vehicle – when they performed Karlheinz Stockhausen’s piece. Helicopter string quartet, a piece composed especially for the musicians of the sky.

  • In a parking lot

    10 years ago, the Multi-Story Orchestra was formed to organize spectacular concerts in unexpected places. The orchestra transformed a multi-story parking lot in Peckham into a classical concert hall and has since toured elsewhere in the process.

    Concert series like Bold Tendencies and Classic FM’s Opera Company in UK Opera North, have also brought classical music out of the concert hall and into the parking lot.

  • At the bottom of the pub

    Let’s take classical music out of formal settings and into beer pub bars.

    That’s what the Enlightenment Orchestra said when it created the Night Shift concert series in 2014, bringing chamber and classical music into drunken and relaxed pub sessions. Let’s drink to that.

  • Crowded onto the iconic London Eye

    In 2019, musicians from the London Philharmonic Orchestra settled into one of the pods at popular tourist destination, the London Eye, and performed a sublime piece of Borodin.

    As the musicians took in spectacular 360-degree views of the British capital, viewers of the video – who captured it all in 360 ° filming technology to make us really feel there.



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