Flautist plays on as butterfly lands on her face (Video)


You have to admire the cool of Japanese flautist Yukie Ota, who was performing Sancan’s ‘Sonatine for flute and piano’ as part of an international competition last week when a butterfly landed right between her eyes and refused to budge.

But every day there’s an example of the way classical musicians can just “Keep calm and carry on”.

It’s part of the training, not be be fazed by little mishaps – or even big ones.

These days the commonest problem is a mobile phone going off, but I’ve seen musicians cope with everything, from a befuddled audience member who started singing loudly to a complete power black-out. Outdoor events are the most hazardous.

When opera takes place at the Baths of Caracalla in Rome the singers and players are often joined by the armies of stray cats that live among the ruins. Bears, raccoons and croaking frogs often join in outdoor music festivals in the US.

At the other end of the scale are the literally world-shaking events which would have most people running for the exit. During the Second World War Dame Myra Hess gave concerts at the National Gallery, and more than once she and the audience sat stoically on while sirens wailed and bombs fell.

In March of this year the Los Angeles Philharmonic was playing Ravel in Walt Disney Hall when an earthquake of magnitude 5.1 struck. The critic of the LA Times reported that, “Although the orchestra seemed a bit rattled at first and the audience gasped, the unflappable veteran Charles Dutoit kept on conducting, never breaking stride, and the performance continued pretty much unimpeded.”