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Postcard from... Madrid



Music and vegetables formed an unlikely but harmonious joint enterprise this week when the Vienna Vegetable Orchestra played at Madrid’s San Miguel market as part of the market’s centenary celebrations.

Among the weird and wacky instruments being used were a trombone-type instrument made out of a gigantic pumpkin, flutes constructed from peppers, carrots and cucumbers, and a horn constructed from a turnip and a green pepper.

There was certainly plenty of base material for the Vegetable Orchestra – formed 15 years ago in Vienna by a group of friends – to choose from. With 75,000 visitors a year the market is, unlike much of the Spanish economy, going from strength to strength. “San Miguel [market] is a reflection of humanity’s first big cultural development – giving food different forms – so we looked for another art form that worked with a gastronomic product to commemorate our anniversary,” the market’s president, Montserrat Valle, told El Pais newspaper.

The 12 members of the Vegetable Orchestra duly chose their vegetables at around 12pm from the market stalls – “they have to be really fresh to sound good,” one player pointed out – and each one uses about 15 “instruments” given that each vegetable produces only a single note.

They then got cutting, scraping and drilling away in time for a 5.30pm soundcheck and an 8pm concert, a mixture of jazz, electronic, techno and experimental music. After that, all 45kg of the vegetables used ended up being blended in another way: as soup.