At first glance, the connection might not be obvious. What could a symphony orchestra and a factory making taps possibly have in common? But this is Denmark, where shared values count for a great deal and where surprises come in the most unexpected places.
This summer, workers at the VOLA factory in Horsens were going about their day as usual when they were interrupted by the sounding of a gong. Then the opening bars of the much-loved Fanfare for the Common Man by Aaron Copeland filled the factory, much to everyone’s surprise and delight.
The music was courtesy of the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra, in their first live performance since the COVID outbreak. It was organised as a cultural celebration after the restrictions of lockdown and a chance for the musicians and the factory workers to enjoy something a little different.
Jesper Nordin, Artistic Director at Aarhus Symphony Orchestra
“It was amazing to play live music for real people,” said Jesper Nordin, Artistic Director at Aarhus Symphony Orchestra. “Normally, we invite people to join us in a concert hall, but this time we were invited to be a part of the daily life of everyone at the VOLA factory – and it was such a great experience.”
The reason behind the surprise appearance goes deeper than simply an amusing diversion in the working day. It was about honouring the connection that the musicians and the employees share – the commitment to craft and precision that is intrinsic to both skills, even though they inhabit very different worlds.
VOLA has always been inspired by culture, especially the nature of an orchestra. Each musician is able to take pride and responsibility for their own contribution, but strong leadership creates cohesion and direction. That is exactly how VOLA operates. Every individual is equally committed to ensuring that the tap coming off the production line is perfect, just as every musician in the orchestra wants to hit the right note at precisely the right moment.
Aarhus Symphony Orchestra has a long history, founded in 1935 and based in the nearby award-winning Aarhus Symphonic Hall, so was the perfect partner in the event. There are 66 permanent musicians, 14 of whom took part in the factory surprise. The orchestra often performs social outreach concerts, including free concerts in schools, and in 2018 launched a new family project for pre-school children and their parents called The Children of Music.
The event not only created a sense of unity and much-needed celebration, it also shone a light on the Danish approach to mindful living. By inviting such a highly regarded orchestra to play for the factory workers, VOLA tuned into a human desire for real connection and inspiration – valuable commodities in today’s digital-first world
VOLA employee Karina, summed up the mood afterwards: “I enjoyed it very much. It was overwhelming, because we don’t see that everyday.”
Later that same day, five woodwind musicians from the orchestra performed the Prelude from Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin in the VOLA Academy. The piece seems to mimic the movement and feeling of water, from cascading waterfalls and rolling waves to deep, dark lakes and soothing pools.
It’s a natural connection to VOLA’s close relationship with water, which goes back to its origins in 1968. Since then, VOLA has continued to explore how water affects our wellbeing at home and in our workplaces. The music brought a new dimension to VOLA’s continued innovation, with the Academy providing the perfect backdrop.