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The Australian Chamber Orchestra aren't the only musicians getting high with their music-making. Italian pianist and mountaineer Elisa Tomellini has performed what has been dubbed the “world’s highest piano concert”, playing at an altitude of 4,460 metres on Monte Rosa in the Pennine Alps. This would appear to beat the record set by German pianist Stefan Aaron in 2012, performing at an altitude of 4206 metres on Alphubel in the Swiss Alps.
Tomellini climbed the mountain herself (sans the piano, which was airlifted in by helicopter), according to a report in The Local. In wind and temperature 15 degrees below zero, she performed wearing gloves. According to her website, Tomellini performed the concert “in order to close the circle of my two lives, that of a pianist and the life in which I temporarily abandoned music to discover the beauty of the world, I performed what is called the world’s highest piano concert after scaling a 14,000ft peak in the Alps.”
Elisa Tomellini. Photo © Joseph Giachino
“I also wanted to bring music and the mountain into people’s hearts, and to help people in doing so,” she said. She plans to donate proceeds raised by the concert to the Nepalese children’s home Sanonani.
“I was cold and scared of not being able to finish,” she told The Local. “I'm still very emotional and happy to have arrived on my own feet and to have played with my hands.”
While this might have been the highest ever piano concert, it doesn’t beat a trio of musicians from the French Orchestre des pays de Savoie for music up high – the wind players performed at an altitude of 4,810 metres on Mont Blanc in 2015.
“The scale of the mission made me feel small,” Tomellini wrote on her website. “Every so often it’s important to realise the proportion of things.”