Sarasota Orchestra surprises air travelers with flash mob

Published Feb. 19, 2013

The dulcet tones of a harpist probably weren't enough to get travelers' attentions. But then along came a pilot and two flight attendants, riding up the escalator at Sarasota Bradenton International Airport.

As the attendants in their eye-catching retro uniforms looked on, the pilot whipped out a baton, took a step back -- and an orchestra flash mob was born.

The delightful result was all caught on a video that the orchestra released on YouTube on Tuesday morning.

Thirty-two musicians, pops conductor Andrew Lane (the pilot) and several staff members worked with airport personnel for the impromptu performance on Jan. 21, according to a news release. As violinists, cello players and other musicians appeared spontaneously from all directions, the orchestra performed Bizet's Danse Boheme, from Carmen Suite No. 2.

And those flight attendants in the Pan Am uniforms? Isabelle Besançon, cello, and Jennifer Best Takeda, assistant concertmaster.

The idea of music in the main terminal of airports isn't new. In the past few months, Tampa International Airport has been hosting Friday Night Flights. They feature live music and drink specials. The next one on March 8 features the Irish Buskers with special Irish dancers from 5-7 p.m.

The idea for the orchestra flash mob was cellist Cheeko Matsusaka's. He coordinated musician participation and led the overall effort to make the flash mob a reality, said the release.

"On the surface, a flash mob is pure entertainment. What we tried to accomplish was to also demonstrate the limitless power of music to delight and illustrate the Sarasota Orchestra's energy and unique personality," said Matsusaka.

Gordon Greenfield, vice president of marketing for the Sarasota Orchestra, praised the airport for making the video possible. "We're hopeful the video goes viral," he said. "We know we did something special for the community, the airport and fans of the orchestra."