When the Cellos Play, the Cows Come Home

A collaboration between a cattle farmer and a Danish music training program brings regular recitals to pampered livestock.


By Lisa Abend, The New York Times (NYT)  

April 28, 2021


LUND, Denmark — During a recent performance of Tchaikovsky’s “Pezzo Capriccioso,” a handful of audience members leaned forward attentively, their eyes bright, a few encouraging snuffles escaping from the otherwise hushed parterre. Though relative newcomers to classical music, they seemed closely attuned to the eight cellists onstage, raising their heads abruptly as the piece’s languid strains gave way to rapid-fire bow strokes.


When it was over, amid the fervent applause and cries of “bravo,” there could be heard a single, appreciative moo.


On Sunday, in Lund, a village about 50 miles south of Copenhagen, a group of elite cellists played two concerts for both some music-loving cows and their human counterparts. The culmination of a collaboration between two local cattle farmers, Mogens and Louise Haugaard, and Jacob Shaw, founder of the nearby Scandinavian Cello School, the concerts were meant to attract some attention to the school and the young musicians in residence there. But to judge by the response of both two- and four-legged attendees, it also demonstrated just how popular an initiative that brings cultural life to rural areas can be.


Until a few years ago, Shaw, 32, who was born in Britain, had toured the world as a solo cellist, performing in hallowed venues including Carnegie Hall and the Guangzhou Opera House. When he moved to Stevns (the larger municipality to which Lund belongs) and opened the Scandinavian Cello School, he soon discovered that his neighbors the Haugaards, who raise Hereford cows, were also classical music lovers. In fact Mogens, who is also a former mayor of Stevns, sits on the board of the Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra...


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