The mesmerising moment a butterfly landed on a flautist mid-performance

18 May 2022, 16:38

Yukie Ota performs at the 2014 Carl Nielsen International Flute Competition
Yukie Ota performs at the 2014 Carl Nielsen International Flute Competition. Picture: YouTube Odense Symfoniorkester

By Sophia Alexandra Hall

A butterfly finds the best seat in the house... the performer’s forehead.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

There was an unexpected star on stage at the Carl Nielsen International Flute Competition in 2014.

A peacock butterfly couldn’t resist Yukie Ota’s beautiful rendition of Pierre Sancan’s Sonatine for Flute and Piano, and alighted on the performer’s forehead.

Most impressively, both butterfly and flautist remained focused on the task at hand: for Ota, not missing a beat; and for the insect, finding the best seat in the house.

The video of the performance went viral, with millions of viewers watching Ota keep her cool during one of the world’s biggest flute competitions.

Watch the heart-stopping moment when the insect lands on the musician’s face below...

Read more: Naughty cat disrupts live orchestra concert and steals the show

While many performers might have let the odd occurrence startle them, Ota told reporters she saw the butterfly’s arrival as a good luck sign.

“[The butterfly] just came and landed on my head. I didn’t see it coming,” the then 29-year-old, Japanese-born, Chicago-based flautist told Michigan Live. “It was kind of surprising.

“But at the same time, I had to concentrate on my performance. [I thought] if I stop, I will fail.”

However, failure is far from what Ota experienced; not only did the DePaul University School of Music graduate place second in the competition, she also received the Orchestra Prize, the Audience Prize, and the Children's Jury Prize from the competition.

Maybe that butterfly was lucky after all...

Discover more weird and wonderful stories from the world of classical music on Global Player – with That Classical Podcast and David Walliams’ Marvellous Musical Podcast.