When the cellists play, the cattle moo-moo, but be assured and delighted that they are listening in :

They simply moo to Mozart. But it's encouraged. In Denmark, eager cellists serenade pampered cattle who come simply to listen.

During a recent performance of Tchaikovsky's ''Pezzo Capriccioso,'' a handful of audience members leaned forward attentively, their eyes bright, a few encouraging snuffles escaping from the otherwise hushed parterre.

Though relative newcomers to classical music, they seemed closely attuned to the eight cellists onstage, raising their heads abruptly as the piece's languid strains gave way to rapid-fire bow strokes.

When it was over, amid the fervent applause and cries of ''bravo,'' there could be heard a single, appreciative moo.

Late last month in Lund, a village about 50 miles south of Copenhagen, a group of elite cellists played two concerts for both some music-loving cattle and their human counterparts.

The culmination of a collaboration between two local cattle farmers, Moguls and Louise Haugaard, and Jacob Shaw, founder of the nearby Scandinavian Cello School, the concerts meant to attract some attention to the school and the young musicians in residence there.

But to judge by the response of both two -and- four legged attendees, it also demonstrated just how popular an initiative that brings cultural life to rural areas can be.

Until a few years ago, Shaw, 32, who was born in Britain, had toured the world as a solo-cellist, performing in hallowed venues including Carnegie Hall in New York and the Guangzhou Opera House.

When he moved to Stevns, [the larger municipality to which Lund belongs] and opened the Scandinavian Cello School, he soon discovered that his neighbors the Haugaards, who raise Hereford cattle, were also classical music lovers. In fact, Mogens who is also a former mayor of Stevns, sits on board of the Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra.

When the cellist, who had toured Japan, told the farmer about how the country's pampered Wagyu cattle were raised to produce tender beef, it didn't take much convincing for Mogens to adopt one component of their upbringing for his own cattle.

Since November 2020, a boom box playing Mozart and other classical music in the Haugaard barn has serenaded the cattle daily. About once a week, Shaw and any students in residence have come for a live performance.

Although it remains unclear whether their new listening habits have affected the quality of the animals' meat, the former noted that the animals come running whenever the musicians show up, and get as close as possible while they play.

Classical music is very good for the humans,'' Haugaard said. ''It helps us relax, and cows can tell whether we're relaxed or not. It makes sense that it would make them feel good too.

Its not always good for the people who perform it, however. Shaw said he founded the Scandinavian Cello School to help fledgling musicians prepare for the glamorous demands of a professional career in an industry that can sometimes chew up young artists in the constant quest for the next big thing.

The World Students Society thanks author Lisa Abend.


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