The Underground Orchestra Challenge

Saturday 1435 – 26th January 2013

The Undergound Orchestra

Last week I wrote about what makes me happy in my post called Happiness Is – at the end of that post I told you about 12.12.12 Underground Orchestra Challenge.   A reminder of what I wrote  “On 1st January 2012, Shaun Buswell started a musical challenge to create an orchestra made up of musicians he met as strangers whilst travelling on the London Underground. Clearly he was absolutely as mad as a box of frogs but he’s doing it to raise money for charity. The charity Daytrippers who help “children with disabilities, life limiting or terminal illnesses enjoy amazing experiences that might otherwise not be available to them”   Click on the names to read more about the challenge.

Well it HAPPENED today and I was there to witness it. Shaun alias Contrabuffoon ( his words in the programme!) pretty much gave up a year of his life to do this. Why did he do it…. because he could and did!

The evening started with a documentary of Shaun’s efforts to meet musicians on the underground and persuade them to come on board; to give up their spare time for this. The video was full of pathos and hilarity; a potent mix, as Shaun struggled _636to keep going at times ( it was only finally confirmed a week or so ago. Phew! )  but weathered the storm in his ever bushier-growing beard.

There followed an introduction of each member of the orchestra and where on the underground he’d met them, no mean feat in itself!_642 

He even managed a set of twins; each met separately on the underground but 3 months apart!

The orchestra,very ably conducted by the lovely Ellie Ververk played 3 pieces, by Grieg, Holst and Dvorak respectively, which I found hugely emotional. 4 people who were ticket holders for the event brought instruments and joined in and one of the members of the orchestra only met Shaun the day before.. Amazing and the whole orchestra was brilliant.


There was a brilliant medley of music from films that feature the London Underground… admittedly some rather tenuously but I loved it and so did the rest of the audience, if the clapping and “whooping” were anything to go by !


Shaun performed with members of his band Buswell and the orchestra. The extraordinary part of this is that Shaun wrote the parts for different instruments which is pretty good considering he can’t actually read music!  _635

_634You can see from Shaun’s face in the little photo left how pleased he was when a line of musicians stood up from their balcony seats and played a little piece in the middle of one of his songs, again arranged at the last minute.

He has a sort of warm contented look on his face

It was a great moment.


My favourite songs of Buswell’s were It’s You, , It will Pass, For the Family and The Road.. all beautiful . You can read more about Buswell the band here  and listen to some of the music here

You can see the concentration and passion for the music when Shaun performs.. 2 things that served him well on this challenge… and he jumps around a lot, hence the blurring in the first one 🙂  




You got a sense that everyone in the audience felt a part of the challenge and were rejoicing in the completion of it which added enormously to the enjoyment of the whole event. I had never met Shaun before this event but I felt as though I did because of being following the challenge since the beginning. He started his orchestra challenge a few days after I started my 366 photography blog which seems really easy now in comparison with what Shaun has achieved.


So what was the point ? What has it proved? 

That if you set yourself a challenge as long as you are committed enough to it, are prepared to work through the problems and never give-up, you can achieve almost anything. Self-belief can carry a person a very long way, that and a charming and very persuasive manner!!   Connections between human beings that develop trust and friendship, as seems evident in this challenge, can be so life-enhancing for everyone concerned can’t they?

So hearty congratulations to Shaun Buswell ( not so much a contrabuffoon after all, eh Shaun!), to the musicians, to the workers from the charity Daytrippers ( personal thanks to the lovely Leila) and all the others who made it possible for Shaun to make this dream come true. 

It was a Triumph and he’s undertaken challenges before this one.  I wonder what he’ll be up to next ??

If you weren’t able to be there you can still help. Take a look at the page on the link below which “features amazing goodies and an exclusive reward in return for pledges, ensuring as much money as possible is raised for the charity”

There is also going to be an auction for some lovely things, like a Spa day for two and Lush goodies, I don’t have details of that yet but will put them in a future posting when I do have them.

You can also read about the charity, and donate directly to them if you are inspired by what they do by visiting them here

This year will be the 10th Anniversary of the founding of Daytrippers and they said this on the 12.12.12 website “Daytrippers were inspired by this huge undertaking as the disabled children and their families that we work with also face many of their own challenges daily. We loved the similarity and wanted to celebrate it.”Leila Talmage, Daytrippers Children’s Charity

The message of never, never give up seems a good place to leave this Saturday’s post.  I like writing about happy things. Must do more of it!

Saturday Girl signing off now. Have a joyful week and be inspired to challenge yourself.


You can find my photography blog Photomania here and I hope you’ll pop over and take a look if you haven’t already


15 comments on “The Underground Orchestra Challenge

  1. […] Last week I wrote about the 12.12.12 Underground Orchestra Challenge.    If you missed it you can read it here […]

  2. clinock says:

    I am so impressed and inspired by this project – thank you for sharing it with us so perfectly. You were privileged to be able to attend – what a magnificent evening it must have been…

  3. Lisa says:

    really good write up Helen, I can see you enthusiastically have enjoyed it, it was a fantastic event Shaun and everyone involved did really well!

  4. Thanks for a great review. It was wonderful to be part of this project, congratulations to Shaun and to everyone involved.

  5. scillagrace says:

    Music and community…a positive combination in so many ways, and something I dearly miss, not being part of a choir anymore. Hopefully there will be much of that at my daughter’s wedding!!

  6. tunnelmental says:

    lovely article you should send Shaun a link. follow your dreams and intuitions.

  7. Lovely post Helen, I am so glad Shaun managed to achieve his challenge and you have done great justice to it with your words and pictures, well done.

  8. Alex Jones says:

    Passion and focus can manifest dreams, this is an example of that.

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