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Posts Tagged ‘vegetable orchestra’


Photo: Johnny Milano for the New York Times
Members of the Long Island Vegetable Orchestra practice for a performance at Long Island’s Oyster Bay Music Festival.

If you liked my 2015 post about MIT wizards making vegetable instruments, wait! There’s more!

Recently, Annie Correal wrote at the New York Times about an orchestra of such instruments.

“On a muggy day in July, in a Long Island backyard, a group of musicians had gathered for rehearsal. As their conductor gently raised both hands, they steadied their instruments, and played the first notes of a Bach chorale, ‘Nun freut euch, Gottes Kinder all.’

“The conductor stopped them. The snake gourd had not hit the D and the butternut squash had come in a little sharp. Take it from the top, he told the players.

“The group rehearsing, the Long Island Vegetable Orchestra, plays instruments made entirely from vegetables. On this day, in addition to the squash and the snake gourd, it included two carrot flutes.

“The orchestra was created more than a decade ago by Dale Stuckenbruck, a classically trained musician from Germany who teaches music on Long Island. It is not the first of its kind. … But it may be the only orchestra of its kind in New York. Over the years, it has performed at schools, galleries, libraries and at an environmental conference in Geneva. It even appeared in a film.

“On this day, Mr. Stuckenbruck, 63, and his four players were rehearsing for their annual performance at the Oyster Bay Music Festival.

“Because vegetable instruments don’t last, fresh ones have to be made every time they play, and they had spent the hour before rehearsal carefully drilling into carrots and hollowing out squashes with an ice cream scoop. The table before them was covered with pulp and broken carrots. …

“The instruments had been kept in ice water so they would stay crisp. … But the temperature hovered around 90 and the day was windless, and as they played the Bach chorale, they were racing against time. In this weather, the instruments would soon grow soft and the mouthpieces gummy, or they might dry out.

“Mr. Stuckenbruck’s … patience was perhaps the key to the continued existence of the Vegetable Orchestra.

“ ‘Let’s do it again,’ he said, as they sat in the broiling sun. …

“Mr. Stuckenbruck was born in Stuttgart, Germany, the son of a saw player. He attended a Waldorf school — which favors hands-on learning — and moved to New York in his 20s to play violin and saw; he played the saw with the New York Philharmonic this spring. …

“He had been asked to create a music program for students who were not musically inclined, he said. After failing to capture their interest with in drumming and music theory, he stumbled across the Viennese Vegetable Orchestra on YouTube.”

“ ‘Everything looks easy on YouTube,’ he said.

“Making playable vegetable instruments turned out not to be easy, but once he got the hang of it, the concept caught on. Carrots could be wind instruments — flutes, panpipes and clarinets, or, as Mr. Stuckenbruck called them, carronets. (The reed is often made from a slice of sweet potato.)

“Depending on the depth of the cavity and the size of the mouth hole, butternut squashes could be trumpets, trombones or French horns.

“Over the years, Mr. Stuckenbruck added more instruments. Broccoli and potatoes made melodious flutes. A daikon, a big white radish, made a deep, honking sound like an oboe. Peppers, with their seeds, were natural maracas.”

More at the New York Times, here, where you can learn which leafy vegetables are good for a sound like scratching a record. Also, be sure to check out the array of instruments on the vegetable orchestra’s home page, here.

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