MIAMI (CBS4) – It wasn’t your typical Muzak which greeted international travelers arriving at the South Terminal of Miami International Airport on Saturday.

Travelers and their family members there to meet them were met by a flash mob performance of sorts by the Miami Symphony Orchestra.

“Imagine that you are arriving with from Europe or Central America. You have your suitcase in your hands and you find yourself in the middle of a performance of real classical music. It’s a wow moment,” says MISO music director and conductor Eduardo Marturet, who led a similar performance at Aventura Mall last year. “The idea was to transform the terminal into a concert hall and maybe even give the people arriving here a different idea of what Miami is about, something beyond the sun and the beach.”

The performance, titled Romantic Finale, was part of the MISO’s Music in Unsuspected Spaces program, and a perfect complement to the airport’s efforts to offer more art and culture.

For two hours, the 90-piece ensemble and Russian-born pianist Yury Shadrin played the music of Johannes Brahms and Sergei Rachmaninoff and Antonin Dvorak as passengers, pilots and flight attendants passed through the terminal.

Almost all were drawn to the elegant symphonic music in ways big and small. Some simply turned to face the music as they passed through. Some slowed down and paused. Some found a place to stop and listen, fully engaged. Some rushed over to film video clips using their cell phones.

“This is just excellent! It was so nice to be greeted by this beautiful music,” says Lucy Daes, on a layover from Barranquilla, Columbia, to New York. “I could hear the music when I was in customs and then the doors opened. I have never seen anything like this. It’s a full orchestra.”

As Margaret Hoffman waited for her daughter’s flight to arrive from Frankfort, she stood still, transfixed by the sounds. Everything about the moment was a first. Hearing the music; watching a conductor make magic; seeing the musicians, all dressed in black.

“I feel like I am in a real concert hall,” says Hoffman who lives in South Dade. “This is amazing but more than that, totally unexpected in an airport.”

Which is precisely the point.

In recent years, organizations have worked to demystify and grant access to art and culture and engage the community. In November, the Knight Foundation’s Random Acts of Culture, offered spontaneous musical performances of Leonard Bernstein’s Maria and America from West Side Story at the airport — just one of the many places it has taken its cultural performances.
Saturday’s event cost about $40,000. The Miami-Dade Aviation Department contributed $5,000, in addition to private sponsors including shoemakers Donald and Lisa Pliner, who provided new shoes for each of the orchestra members.

“Our mission is to humanize the airport environment, make it a welcoming space for passengers in what we know can be a stressful experience,” says Yolanda Sánchez, the airport’s director of Fine Arts and Cultural Affairs, which has brought a series of art exhibits to the airport. “We also want to support the arts and culture in our community.”

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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