Nicole Crespo O’Donoghue filled the unexpected waiting times with festive cheer by playing Christmas tunes on board a British Airways flight
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A violinist has brought Christmas cheer to stranded passengers during a time when holiday travel is at its most stressful and unpredictable.
British Airways flight BA0838 was due to travel from London Heathrow to Dublin on the afternoon of 18 December 2022, but instead was subjected to a five-hour delay due to anomalies found during the aircraft’s pre-departure checks.
Passengers were then told they needed to change to another aircraft. ’At this point we had been sitting on the plane for three hours,’ violinist Nicole Crespo O´Donoghue told The Strad. ’Once we were told this I went to get my violin so as to be ready to leave, but there was further delay.
’I spoke to the air hostess and said that I could take out my violin if they wanted, especially if there was still going to be more delay, and after consulting with the pilot they said “yes please!”’
Crespo O´Donoghue played the upbeat Marino Waltz, followed by Christmas songs to lift passengers’ spirits. These included the whole plane singing Silent Night and O Holy Night together, plus Jingle Bells to cheer up the children. Irish television presenter Lorraine Barry captured parts of the performance on video, which she sent to Crespo O’Donoghue.
In a slight departure from airline stories involving instruments, Crespo O’Donoghue mentioned that ’the crew were wonderful… they were very accommodating and lovely about the violin as my hand luggage.’
Following the impromptu performance, the passengers finally got on a bus to board another plane. ’Lots of people thanked me, and I am glad that I was able to uplift everyone’s spirits.’
Crespo O’Donoghue was travelling to Dublin to visit family for Christmas, the first time since before Covid. She plans to perform pop-up concerts of Christmas music at Dublin’s General Post Office (GPO) from 1 to 2pm for charity. She is currently pursuing a PhD at the Royal College of Music and is head of strings at Westminster City School. As a recording artist she has worked with composers such as the group Vanbur, and also freelances with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and London Contemporary Orchestra.