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The 2014 FIFA World Cup begins tomorrow in Brazil, which has me reminiscing about a bit of twisted inspiration we at the Arts Council took from the previous tournament. Four years ago, during the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, the world was introduced to a migraine-inducing “musical instrument” called the vuvuzela. Shortly thereafter, we at the Arts Council organized the most aurally insulting “performance” the City of New Haven had ever seen or heard.

In August 2010, the New Haven Vuvuzela Orchestra made its debut on the New Haven Green. It was a debut performance, conducted by New Haven Symphony Orchestra Music Director William Boughton, that was (thankfully) also the ensemble’s last. A few days before the big (if irritating) event, we held auditions (not really) and found one suitable vuvuzelist — our organization’s then-community programs coordinator, Shola Cole, whose audition, as you can see in the video provided above, was almost painless.

With our principal vuvuzelist on board, we invited the public to participate in making the most bothersome sound in the world.

As the New Haven Independent’s Allan Appel reported at the time, “The inaugural performance of the city’s newest musical ensemble was such a hit that another concert is likely never to happen again.”

Several dozen people showed up on the New Haven Green on August 13, 2010, to be part of something truly annoying, though it’s more likely that most of them showed up to claim a free vuvuzela.

Appel aptly described the sound created that day as a “cacophony.”

In his report, Appel wrote: “The event was a dry run for the council to explore new and more spontaneous ways to spread the word about an event using Facebook and Twitter.” And he quoted me as saying it was also “a chance for the community to come out at lunch, to do something absurd, and annoy the neighbors.”

At very least, we accomplished that much. And if I have anything to do with it, there’ll never be a reunion of that damnable ensemble.

The New Haven Vuvuzela Orchestra is dead. Long live the New Haven Vuvuzela Orchestra.

— David Brensilver

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