The Underground Orchestra

The Underground Orchestra is an orchestra made up of strangers that were met at random on the London Underground by Shaun Buswell during his 12.12.12 Underground Orchestra Challenge. They vary in size between 30 & 70 and perform a range of music from classical to contempory folk, rock, punk and hip-hop to movie & TV themes related to the London Underground.


The Underground Orchestra Challenge (or Tube Orchestra Challenge as it is also know) was a charity based music challenge set by Shaun Buswell in 2012, to raise funds and awareness for children’s charity Daytrippers.

On 1st January 2012, Shaun started the challenge to create an orchestra made up of musicians he met as strangers whilst travelling on the London Underground. The challenge involved rules including that the orchestra would have to be between 30 and 100 piece in size, and would have to be formed by the date 12th December 2012 (hence the name 12.12.12).

The orchestra would then have to perform at one of 12 top London venues, as well as perform a mix of music, including songs that Shaun would have to score, without reading a note of music.

On 12th December 2012, the orchestra performed their first rehearsal at 61 Whitehall.

On 26th January 2013, the orchestra then performed at the finale of the challenge at the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire. Shaun took to the stage with 68 musicians.

 This was meant to be the end of the story….

However, since 2013, the orchestra has continued to perform in various guises, from performing with different live folk, rock, punk and hip-hop bands, to doing shows consisting of movie and TV theme tunes.

There are roughly 150 musicians that are on the roster of the Underground Orchestra, and whilst it is mainly made up of the strangers Shaun met during 2012, there are additional musicians constantly joining and expressing interest in this unique orchestra.

“Daytrippers were inspired by this huge undertaking as the disabled children and their families that we work with also face many of their own challenges daily. We loved the similarity and wanted to celebrate it.” – Leila Talmage, Daytrippers Children’s Charity

“A very very cool, interesting, novel idea. Have been very keen to get involved with the whole process since Shaun found me at Baker Street carrying my viola!” – Ben Gould, Orchestra Manager for the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra

“London Underground carries 4,000,000 people every day, so we know what a rich mix of people there are in this great city of ours. This will be a real eye-opener by showcasing the huge amount of talent to be found on the capital’s transport network, and we wish Shaun the very best in completing his challenge.” – Nigel Holness, London Underground Operations Director

“He’s loitering with intent.” – Brenda Emmanus, BBC London News

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