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By Eliza Berman
November 3, 2014

How do you get your orchestra to perform a more rousing rendition of Tango Jalousie? Force them to eat some of the world’s hottest chili peppers before placing lips to bassoon and bow to cello. In what appears to be either a playful marketing gag or the most sadistic tactics ever used by a conductor, the Danish National Chamber Orchestra attempted to hold it together while performing under the influence of chili peppers.

Led by conductor Claus “Chili” Pilgaard and concertmaster Erik Heide, the orchestra began the piece on empty stomachs and then, partway through, popped the peppers as if on cue. The next several minutes have them grimacing, crying, and steadily reddening until the final note, at which point they place their expensive instruments carefully on the floor and flee the stage.

To the musicians’ credit, the execution sounded flawless, at least to an untrained ear. You might even say they were on fire.

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