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Musicians use veggies as instruments, cook leftovers to feed audience members

The Vegetable Orchestra, a quirky ensemble of diverse musicians, buys veggies at the farmer's market and then turns them into instruments

Image Source: Great Big Story / YouTube
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Your parents may have taught you not to play with your food, but The Vegetable Orchestra has been doing just that for over 20 years now. By using their fresh vegetables and fruit as musical instruments, they create music that sounds amazing to your ears and then, later, tastes great to your mouth too. Once they have put on a performance, the musicians of The Vegetable Orchestra cook their produce up to serve the members of their audience. At present, they are all under lockdown due to the ongoing public health crisis, but through communication tools like Zoom, the show goes on!

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The musical group is based in the city of Vienna, Austria. Found in 1998, they have performed at concerts all over the world. Their musical style, just like their musical instruments, are quite quirky as well. The orchestra's bio reads: "There are no musical boundaries for The Vegetable Orchestra. The most diverse music styles fuse here—contemporary music, beat-oriented House tracks, experimental Electronic, Free Jazz, Noise, Dub, Clicks'n'Cuts. The musical scope of the ensemble expands consistently, and recently-developed vegetable instruments and their inherent sounds often determine the direction." So, the group could be rocking out on some pumpkins one day and swaying to the melody of a carrot the next day.

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The musicians in the group, like the instruments they play, are diverse. Some are musicians full time, but the ensemble also consists of visual artists, architects, designers, media artists, writers, and even sound poets. Prior to each of their performances, the group goes out to a farmer's market to find the freshest pickings of the day. Unlike the rest of us who look for freshness and visual quality, for instance, they pick out veggies based on how they sound. From banging on a watermelon to whacking a couple of leeks, The Vegetable Orchestra goes all out. Later, when they head home, the musicians carve instruments out of the vegetables they bought before playing them in front of a live audience.

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For those of you wondering what happens to all those great vegetables following the show, fret not! All the produce gets turned into a sumptuous post-performance meal. At present, the orchestra doesn't put on live performances. Instead, the musicians play together via Zoom. In a video for the YouTube channel Great Big Story, The Vegetable Orchestra put on a show to make its unique music accessible to all during these challenging times. Their latest hit is a piece they like to call "Green Days," which is the perfectly punny anthem we need these days. You can check it out now on the Great Big Story YouTube channel.

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