A choir of primary schoolchildren have played their way into the record books with a successful attempt at the title for largest ocarina ensemble at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

Children as young as five years of age led a total of 3,081 players to form the Largest ocarina ensemble in the world, beating the previous record of 831 set in China three years ago.

Their seven-minute performance of Ode to a Joyful New Star at the Barnardo’s Young Supporters Concert was achieved after weeks of ocarina practice in schools across the UK, Gibraltar and Jersey, culminating in a short rehearsal together on the day.

The attempt was organised by musical instrument suppliers Ocarina workshop , with the piece conducted by composer Douglas Coombes MBE with accompaniment from the Royal Albert Hall organ.

An audience of parents, friends and ocarina fans supported the children by learning to play together during the concert.

As well as raising money for children’s charity Barnardo’s, the children were allowed to keep their ocarinas at the end of the concert and offered a programme of music teaching.


The English four-hole ocarina was invented in London 50 years ago by John Taylor. The name ocarina – meaning “little goose” – was first given to a round-shaped flute in 1853 by the Italian, Guiseppe Donati. Variations of similar wind instruments, known as vessel flutes, have been around for thousands of years.

David Liggins, director of Ocarina Workshop, taught everyone to play in just eight minutes and commented: “That was the fastest music lesson I’ve ever seen; the sound of over 3,000 people aged five to eighty all playing Beethoven’s Ode to Joy was both amazing and surreal”.