The Mile High Club: Classical Musicians in Mid-Air Videos

By James Inverne on Sep 25, 2013 03:33 PM EDT

It may come as a surprise to anyone who flies regularly and doesn't come across this sort of thing, but suddenly the skies seem to be full of music. Live, classical music.

There has been a rash--or should that be, an airborne fleet--of videos hitting YouTube and elsewhere lately, featuring musicians plying their trade mid-air on-board planes. Perhaps joining the musical mile high club is the next big publicity thing after flash mobs have become so last season.

Here are three recent examples: The first, and best, actually seems spontaneous and features members of the Philadelphia Orchestra, stuck on a much delayed plane from Beijing (OK, this one isn't actually mid-air but on the runway--same, same) enlivening the egregious wait with some Dvořák. At the time of writing, this one has notched up nearly 2.2 million views.

Then, there's the plane entirely populated by orchestra members, instruments out and playing. Not sure where they'll find room for the meal trays. On most flights, there barely seems enough room even without French horns in the way (thanks to Norman Lebrecht for spotting this one over at Arts Journal's "Slipped Disc").

That one's an ad (for United), as is this--Joseph Calleja is not only one of the world's leading tenors, he's suddenly Malta's most recognizable inhabitant since the knights of St. John, so it's natural that Air Malta would turn to the opera singer for their commercial.

It is a strange kind of ad though--wasn't there anything Maltese they could sing rather than "O sole mio?" Mind you, Malta is just across the water from Sicily we suppose, so... Also, lovely and modest chap though he is, does he really still travel economy class?

Incidentally, for our favorite bit of footage involving lots of people singing in a moving vehicle, try the following from The Hunt for Red October. Plot point: The Russian submarine crew are feeling patriotic after being told they're sailing to confront arch-enemies the U.S., but are unaware that their captain has very different plans. Jump to 1:50 for the singing.

Best line (not in this clip)? An American submarine sonar operator, on their tail, says to his captain, puzzled, "For a moment I thought I heard...singing." Let them shing, Vasily. Let them shing.

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TagsPhiladelphia Orchestra, Dvořák, Facebook, YouTube, Norman Lebrecht, Arts Journal, Slipped Disc, United Airlines, Joseph Calleja, Air Malta, O sole mio, The Hunt for Red October, Sean Connery

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