In a world in which classical music usually follows old customs, something quite different happened at this year’s Hayden Festival due to the Danish Chamber Orchestra.
On a stage at the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen, a man named Torben Petersen stands with his arms in the air like a conductor. He’s not trying to make music. He’s encouraging his eight-year-old dog, Sophus, to bark.
But Sophus isn’t alone. There are two other well-trained dogs, Cookie and Sica, right there with him. These furry performers aren’t just barking randomly. They’re doing it in sync with the Danish Chamber Orchestra.
Round of a Paws! 🐶🎶
Three dogs joined the Danish Chamber Orchestra for a very special performance of Mozart's "Hunting Symphony" at this year's Haydn Festival. ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/0kQEvnMZb5
— Euronews Culture (@euronewsculture) September 4, 2023
This unique show took place on a special Sunday performance of a piece called the “Hunting Symphony” by Leopold Mozart, who happens to be the father of the famous composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Cookie, Sophus, and Sica were selected during an audition
It’s not very common to see live dogs on stage during performances of this piece. Usually, orchestras prefer to use recorded sounds.
But, last spring, after going through an audition, these three dogs were chosen because they’re really good at barking. They practiced a lot with their owners, who were quite generous with treats to make sure the dogs barked at the right times.
Andreas Veto, the leader of the orchestra, explained to AFP during a rehearsal before the Sunday show that “the symphony is in three movements and in the last movements, we will hear the hunt begin and we will have shootings, and then the dogs will start to bark.”
The Danish orchestra was absolutely determined to have live dogs on stage for this performance. Veto further expressed, “It has been a wish by our chief conductor Adam Fischer for several years to perform exactly this piece, because he will be able to put in this element of participating dogs.”
‘Hunting Symphony’ performed with hounds on stage
In 2014, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in the United States also had dogs on stage when they performed this piece, wrote Barron’s.
During the rehearsal on Sunday, the dogs sat at the back of the stage and listened carefully to the music before their owners brought them to the front.
Helle Lauvring, who is the owner of Cookie, a four-year-old Spanish Water Dog, told AFP, “If I had to be there all by myself, I think I would be nervous but all the attention is on her, [and] she is the star.”
“I’m just behind her with all the treats,” said the 60-year-old, who uses her fingers to snap and encourage Cookie to bark.