The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music news: Copenhagen, Denmark sure likes Flash Mobs. Just listen to members of the Copenhagen Philharmonic performing Grieg’s “Peer Gynt” and Ravel’s “Bolero.”

May 15, 2012
5 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

I remember a “60 Minutes” story about how the so-called “melancholy Danes” are actually the most satisfied citizens in the world.

True, they pay a lot of taxes. But in the interviews, it quickly became apparent that people like that just fine since such taxation also brings them excellent health care, state-paid higher education, generous maternity and paternity leave, public transportation, and many other social and personal benefits. (And so far, I don’t hear Denmark included in discussions of Europe’s debt problems.)

Maybe that level of public satisfaction also helps to explain why members of the Copenhagen Philharmonic like to stage “flash mob” versions of symphonic music in subway cars and railroad stations

To remind people: Flash mobs are populist in nature;  and though apparently spontaneous and spur-of-the-moment, they are in reality very well planned and synchronized events where music just starts happening outside concert halls or the usual and traditional venues. Some flash mobs are instrumental, but most seem to use group singing, especially for the “Hallelujah Chorus” by Handel.

Do you like the good life? Not for nothing is Copenhagen known as the “Paris of the North.”

Here, for example, are two videos of the flash mob events that have gone viral.

The first one, from last year, is Ravel‘s “Bolero” played in the city’s main railroad station. It has brought over 5 MILLION hits to YouTube. It is also a perfect piece for a gathering flash mob as the repetitive melody and rhythm hop around from one instrument or section to another.

The most recent one, just a week ago, is a version the soaring and stirring “Dawn” movement  of Grieg’s popular “Peer Gynt,” which the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra played in Madison at the Wisconsin Union Theater a couple of season ago. The Danes play it in a subway car full of commuters. So far, that video has brought in over 2 MILLION hits — and brought me to tears. To have such beauty in the amid the hubbub of our daily life and at the beginning of the work day is truly inspired! I expect many more millions of hits to come.

Take a look and listen:

And just to remind you: Flash mobs also happen in Madison at the Farmers Market, the state Capitol and the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. Here is a link to several:

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=flash+mob+Madison&oq=flash+mob+Madison&aq=f&aqi=g3&aql=&gs_l=youtube-psuggest.3..0l3.1596.2088.0.2753.2.2.0.0.0.0.200.270.1j0j1.2.0…0.0.yo3I5hOWatA

What do you think of the flash mob phenomenon in general?

What did you think of these Copenhagen flash mobs?

What make Copenhagen special as a place for flash mobs.

The Ear wants to hear.


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