A film of passengers playing Beethoven in a Newcastle city centre bus station is becoming a surprise internet phenomenon.
The film by video artist Anton Hecht has racked up more than 150,000 views on YouTube in less than a week and been featured by major online sites MSN and CBS news in the USA.
Anton, from Newcastle, made the film by setting up a piano surrounded by cameras in the middle of the busy Haymarket bus station, used by three million people a year.
Musician Andy Jackson sat at the keyboard and invited passers-by to step forward and help him play Beethoven’s famous Moonlight Sonata – with each supplying one or two notes at a time.
People the world over have been enchanted by the resulting film in which each contribution edited together to make an almost seamless performance, as much about the people who pass through a city bus station as the music itself.
Anton said: “I hadn't really imagined how excited the commuters would be to get involved, and to chat about their own experience with music while taking part.
“I cannot really explain what has finally emerged from the video, but it is a truly communal playing experience.”
Huw Lewis, Head of Communication for Nexus, the passenger transport executive which manage the bus station and helped fund the project said: “It is amazing this simple. Clever, idea has found such a wide audience.
“It tells a story about the many different people you might meet on a bus, and that, by getting together, we can all create something a little special.”
Bus Station Sonata was made possible by Nexus, which hired the piano through its Art on Transport programme, with grant support from Arts Council England and FACT, the foundation of Art and Creativity.
Anton's previous works have often been in public spaces and made in and with people from North East England, including Undercover Orchestra, a flashmob classical happening with musicians playing Ravel’s Bolero to surprised shoppers and customers at Newcastle’s Eldon Square Bus Station.
Anton has made a musical documentary in a local tower block, and has gotten people to make words with their bodies, made choirs sing Verdi in a city market, produced a ‘morphing ballet’ with over 50s and even had older people dancing with shopping trolleys in Darlington town square. He has also persuaded local traders to dance with their wares and made a one note symphony in a local church.