Orchestra Finds a New Way to Pass the Time During a Take-Off Delay

by Chris Kjelgaard on September 3, 2010

Here’s a new take on passenger rights that maybe U.S. airlines, airports and the Department of Transportation should make mandatory.

As the take-off delay on a September 2 KLM flight from Shanghai to Amsterdam grew to an hour, members of the Amsterdam Sinfonietta string orchestra traveling on the Boeing 747-400 decided they could do something to make the waiting time pass more quickly for everyone on board. Watch this video:


When the delay started becoming irksome, the members of the Amsterdam Sinfonietta took up their instruments and played Mozart’s Symphony No. 29 to a captive, but delighted, audience. The Sinfonietta’s impromptu performance drew rapturous applause and – from the sound of the announcement over the aircraft’s PA system as the concert was ending, which suggested that the crew of the 747 was about to tell the passengers that the ground delay would soon end – was extremely well-timed.

As William Congreve wrote in 1697 in Act 1, Scene 1 of his play ‘The Mourning Bride’, “Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak …” Apparently the strains of a Mozart symphony can even calm annoyed airline passengers in 2010. Perhaps more flyers wouldn’t complain to airlines about long ground delays if they were treated to live concert performances while they waited.

On September 2, 2010, members of the Amsterdam Sinfonietta string orchestra took up their instruments and played Mozart's Symphony Number 29 for the passengers and crew of a KLM Boeing 747-400 as all on board waited out a long take-off delay for their Shanghai-Amsterdam flight

The members of the 22-strong Amsterdam Sinfonietta were on their way back home after a tour of China which included concerts at the National Centre of Performing Arts in Beijing and at the Dutch Culture Centre at the Shanghai 2010 World Expo, in a series sponsored by the Netherlands China Arts Foundation (NCAF). In addition, Sinfonietta cellist Pieter Wispelwey gave masterclasses to Chinese conservatory students during the tour.

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