Philadelphia Orchestra
The Philadelphia Orchestra played an impromptu performance of Dvorak's "The American" on a delayed flight in Beijing. Philadelphia Orchestra/YouTube

With canceled flights, hidden fees, long lines and other inconveniences and annoyances, airplane travel has become increasingly stressful across the globe, particularly in China. Domestic air travel in China is particularly notorious for the high frequency of delays and cancellations, causing some passengers to erupt in rage. However, some agitated passengers on one Macau-bound flight from Beijing that had been delayed for three hours on the runway were surprised by a live musical performance courtesy of the Philadelphia Orchestra.

According to Beijing news blog Beijing Cream, the quartet that performed had played a show in Beijing last Thursday and was headed to Macau for the last leg of its 2013 Residency & Fortieth Anniversary Tour of China.

With time to kill, the quartet, made up of Juliette Kang on violin, Daniel Han on violin, Che-Hung Chen on viola and Yumi Kendall on cello, pulled out their instruments, stood in the aisles and played Dvorak’s “String Quartet No. 12,” also known as “The American.”

The Philadelphia Orchestra has a long historical tie with China. As the New York Times pointed out, the Philadelphia Orchestra arrived in Beijing for the first time 40 years ago, in 1973, a year after President Richard Nixon’s historic trip to China, which thawed relations between the two former enemies. The orchestra was personally chosen by Nixon himself and represented the first cultural delegation from the U.S. to be sent to China following the initial "Ping-Pong" diplomacy exchange.