90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
Here and Now with Robin Young
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
Thursday, December 9, 2010

Choral ‘Flash Mob’ Hits Canadian Mall


Shoppers in one Canadian mall recently got more holiday spirit than they bargained for during lunchtime in a food court. What appeared to be a group of unassuming men and women eating lunch, turned out to be singers from Chorus Niagara, who dropped their burgers and burst into “Hallelujah.”

The Canadian company, Alphabet Photography, came up with the idea as a thank you to its customers.  But the video quickly shot to the top of YouTube’s charts, and has been viewed more than 15 million times. We speak to one of the singers, Stephanie Tritchew, who is now known around the world as the woman in the red scarf singing with her cell phone. Tritchew is a soprano studying at the University of Western Ontario.

Watch a choral ‘flash mob’ at Macy’s in Philadelphia

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Randy Phillips

    Being an atheist I hate Christmas. But I like good music and this is one of the best ever written. I would have loved to have been there that day and heard this.

    Bravo to the chorus


  • david compton

    Hey, Robin
    On the radio today, you promised us the backstory on this remarkable video if we went to the website. Not seeing it here??
    It has become a worldwide phenomenon; I’ve lost track of the number of people who have sent me the Web link.

    For reasons that go beyond the beautiful music, this video strikes a strongly positive chord (no pun intended) among those who see it. Psychologists are probably writing papers on it right now.
    My brother-in-law and his wife watched together, and he tells us that she burst into tears. Girls! What are you gonna do!
    Okay, I’ll admit my eyes got a little moist, too, the first time I watched it.

  • Reuben Rajala

    What a wonderful surprise it must have been for the shoppers at the mall! Such incredible singing and a creative way to share it. We need more of this kind of cultural enhancement everywhere.

  • Tim Earle

    Thank you to all who thought of and participated in this wonderful, in the fullest sense of the word, event! I only wish that the non participants had seemed more impressed by what they were being given. In the midst of economic struggle this piece was a priceless gift and, “it came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages boxes or bags”!

  • Martha

    Dear Robin – I heard you mention this on the radio, and looked it up. Thank you for the heads up – what a wonderful experience – for those present – and for we viewers!
    Merry Christmas! and Hallelujah!

  • vi

    We, too, had a flash “Hallelujah Chorus” in our beautiful old Wanamaker’s Department Store (now Macy’s) in Philly. If you’d like to see it, search “Random Acts of Culture – Handel’s Messiah 10/30/2010″ on YouTube.

  • http://www.joanbackes.com Joan Backes

    This reminded me of my high school choir in South Milwaukee WI. Every year for the holiday concert our choir director, Mr. Stiemke, would end the concert with the Hallelujah Chorus. At that time all choir alumni who were in the audience would join the group for this song. Everyone was excited for the end of the concert to see who would be there – a chance to renew friendships. I enjoyed the memory, joy, and excitement of those years once again with this video. How lovely to surprise people in the mall with the pleasure of this piece.


    What a pleasure it was to hear about and then watch this performance of the “Hallelujah Chorus”. I am not a Christian, but it did not fail to bring me the joy that I could see in the performers’ faces.
    I had seen the You Tube segment at Macy’s in Philly, which was also stirring. Each delivered wonderful viewing.

  • http://www.blakelyla.com Jeff Blakely


    We have felt for a very long time that Here and Now is the best show on NPR and listen religiously.Your guests, topics,and personal interviews are routinely excellent,usually not heard elsewhere,and obviously selectively chosen; and this’Canadian Mall flash mob’ story was so utterly delightful we couldn’t let it go without ‘singing’ your praises. Kudos to you and all your staff, and to all a happy holiday season.

  • Barbara Finn

    Robin -
    Thank you for this delightful piece and for the link to the YouTube video.

    There was a similar Hallelujah Flash Mob which performed in Philadelphia in the downtown Macy’s (former Wanamaker’s) store courtyard. I’d also love to see a video of that one too!

  • http://Wuom Deb Habel

    I only caught part of the interview. And I’m so dissapointed that I can’t listen to the replay on my iPhone. Can’t wait to get home so I can stream the fullthing. I wondered who was on the phone, and wish that someday I could be lucky enough to be in a Place where something this wonderful occurs! Three cheers!

  • Bob of Newton

    To Randy: ‘Being an atheist I hate Christmas…’

    There is no necessary correlation.

  • Patricia

    Watching and listening with earphones helps recreate the surround sound effect. Choral singing is great, Messiah is great, being in the middle of it literally takes my breath away.

  • JCB Jones

    I had the pleasure of sharing this video with visiting family over our Thanksgiving holiday.
    What a treat to scan their faces and see the joy it brought to each as they watched.
    This was a truly touching performance, particularly because it took the music into the midst of a shopping mall.
    My hat is off to the singers, video and audio crews who captured this extraordinary event.
    To God be the glory.

  • lynn

    I find mall shopping to be at the top of my “to avoid” places during the holiday season….although with this beautiful gift of song I may have changed my mind..a stop and take a deep breath moment. Thanks for sharing!

  • Deke Smith

    I think both the Senate and the House should be required to sit down and watch this!


    Robin -

    you are the best,

    thank you,


  • Laura

    What a beautiful gift!

  • Maurice Manning

    I had tears in my eyes listening to your “Here and Now”(Dec 9,2010) interview with Chorus Niagara soprano Stephanie Tritchew giving the backstory to this very moving, totally inspiring and amazing UTube video.Thank you very much for bringing this truely awesome video to my attention and to the attention of all your listeners.Thanks also for the link to the video. Your interview greatly enhanced my subsequent enjoyment of the the video. Great job!
    “Here and Now” is one of my favourite programs. You have an uncanny knack Robin for capturing the moment.
    Today’s program about the Hallelujah Chorus was another masterpiece!

  • Donna Lombardo

    I truly hope this kind of public music making catches on. Who knows what minds will be inspired to uplift their own lives by actually participating in performances of such magnificient music? The website to catch the Philly Wanamaker’s “Halleluja” is http://www.creativeminorityreport.com/2010/11/awesome-pop-up-halleluja-chorus-at.html.

  • Thomas Shurtleff

    Although traditionally associated with the Christmas season, Handel’s Hallelujah chorus actually is written in the Messiah announcing the Resurrection (after death) of the Christ on Eater morning. The oratorio is an extraordinary narrative of God’s plan of salvation for humankind throughout the history of His creation.

  • Walt Selfridge

    The idea of “public music” appears to have begun in Europe in the middle of the past decade (maybe sooner)…You Tube is just full of great videos…it’s a great way to spend an hour on the internet…for example, opera in a market in Valencia, ‘The Sound of Music’ in Belgian train station…etc.

  • Lynda Christian

    What an inspiring concert–and in a public place like that! It was the perfect antidote to listening to Congressmen opine that people without jobs aren’t looking for them, that renters are not fit to vote, that people without jobs can only have insurance for 13 months, and that only the rich really count. Let’s have a round of applause for Handel who praised the creation and everything in it.

  • Ella May Wulff

    These two videos are loads of fun. I wish I could have been a part of one of those flash choruses. Maybe someday.

    Like the woman from South Milwaukee, WI, I attended a high school whose Christmas concert always ended with the singing of the Hallelujah Chorus, in which choir alums were invited to join. I never made it back to Frankford High School’s holiday concert after I graduated, but I’ve sung Messiah several times in its entirety.

    Thanks for a beautiful experience. Hearing the Wanamaker Organ again was a real treat.

  • http://www.blakeneylaw.com/ Rob Blakeney

    Those who enjoyed Chorus Niagara’s performance of the Hallelujah Chorus at a mall, have also enjoyed (going on two years) the Sound of Music’s “Do Re Mi” performed by a very talented very anonymous mob of dancers (‘n’ singers) at Central Station Antwerp (in Belgium):


  • Mark Ogawa

    Yes! And the Hallelujah chorus is a celebration not of Christ’s birth but of His resuraction. The other very famous chorus “For Unto Us a Child Is Born” is the the one associated with Christmas.

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

September 15 23 Comments

A Call To Reject Corporal Punishment As Part Of Black Culture

An incident of child abuse by an NFL player has raised questions about the use of corporal punishment as a form of discipline in the African-American community.

September 15 26 Comments

Would You Pay To Get Your Kid Into A Top College?

A San Francisco company charges parents for a consulting package based on the odds their student will get into a certain university, with prices up to a million dollars.

September 12 9 Comments

Senator: Arab Countries ‘Need To Step To The Plate’ In Fight Against ISIS

Mark Begich (D-AK) is one of the few members of Congress speaking out against a key part of President Obama's plan for fighting the Islamic State.

September 12 Comment

Ecuadorian Drilling Damage Inspires Documentary

An American and an Ecuadorian are inspired to help Ecuador heal from decades of drilling and oil spills.