Musician creates orchestra of strangers found on London underground

A full 70-piece orchestra, made up of total strangers found at London Underground stations, has performed at the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, raising funds for children with disabilities

The project, known as the 12.12.12 Underground Orchestra Challenge, was the brainchild of singer-songwriter Shaun Buswell, who himself cannot read or write music.

His challenge started on 1 January 2012, with Buswell dedicating the whole of last year to gather musicians, who he had met for the first time on the London Underground, to join his orchestra.

Buswell visited around 200 London Underground stations, approaching random people who were carrying instruments, to ask if they would take part in a potential musical performance.

On 26 January 2013, simultaneously marking the London Underground’s 150th anniversary, Buswell’s event launched with a 40-minute documentary of his mission, followed by folk music and classical music by Holst, Dvořák and Grieg.

A highlight was the representation of little-known instruments like the euphonium, accordion and flugelhorn. The only instrument Buswell couldn’t find was a cor anglais (English horn).

The concert was held in aid of the charity Daytrippers, which helps children with disabilities.