London Underground orchestra: Shaun Buswell shares his inspiration

We caught up with the man behind the 12.12.12 Underground Orchestra Challenge, after he successfully recruited a full orchestra made up entirely of strangers on the tube in London.

Shaun Buswell London Underground Orchestra

Earlier this week, we reported on the 12.12.12 Underground Orchestra Challenge - a remarkable project where 70 strangers recruited from the London Underground network came together to perform in a charity concert. We caught up with the man behind the project for a quick chat.

How did it feel to finally perform on stage after a whole year of searching for musicians?

It's actually the strangest feeling I've ever had from a show, because it was a year of my life on the stage. I decided, last minute, to introduce each musician to the stage, and mention their name and what station or train line I met them at, so for me, by the time the music started, it had a real personal feeling to it. It really felt like a unique event in many ways, and I guess it was a relief for it to finally be over. But for that one night, I really did love the fact everyone came together and we performed to the best of our abilities.

What made you decide to start this project?

I've been doing musical challenges for a while now: the last one was to perform with a full orchestra and score the music without reading a note of it, which was completed on 12 February, and I have been challenging myself with things that push me both musically and personally since. Whilst living in London, I ended up meeting a violinist on the tube and had some sheet music with me and she agreed to play on the carriage for a moment with me. Not to busk, but just to share a brief moment of music. After that, I started to wonder if I could do it on an even larger scale.

Would you ever do anything like this again?

I say no. But the honest answer is I don't know. We had to cut a couple of pieces from the night because of time constraints and I realised today that I spent weeks scoring songs that have never been heard live. So I feel I owe it to the music to let it be born. I'm not very good at leaving things unresolved! However, I think it would be nearly impossible to get the same musicians in a room together again. The problem is, that now sounds like a challenge...

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