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Musicians Perform With Broken Instruments In Unique Philadelphia Concert

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - A rather unusual concert is taking place Sunday evening at the 23rd Street Armory in Center City.

It's called "Symphony for a Broken Orchestra" and aims to highlight the importance of music and art education in schools by using those very same damaged instruments in the performance.

"We collected about 1,000 broken instruments that are owned by the School District of Philadelphia," explains Sarah Biemiller, one of the organizers of this event. "We then recorded all of the sounds those broken instruments make, creating a sound library."

Those sounds were then sent to the composer, who then created a composition based on them.

"It's going to be sort of a rambling, interesting, cacophony of sound," Biemiller says.

That's because each instrument is defective in some way.

"Very beat up violins with no strings, violins with no necks, flutes with no pads, cellos broken in half," adds Biemiller.

Not only does Bethany Smith's cello have a large crack down the middle, but it doesn't have a bridge either. But she, like the other musicians, is making the most of the situation.

"I was wondering how can an instrument be broken and still be playable, and it was really interesting to see the wide range of ways they can do that," she says.

Smith is one of 400 Philadelphia musicians joining members of the Philadelphia Orchestra for the concert. They've all been rehearsing leading up to the concert.

Allison Aprile is also participating. She's playing her broken clarinet.

"Really out of tune and really squeaky," she says. "It's not about if it sounds good, it's more about coming together with a bunch of broken things and making a point."

After the concert, most of the instruments will be sent out to be repaired and then returned to the school district sometime next year.

More information on Symphony for a Broken Orchestra is available here.


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