Marble Pedestal: Orchestral Music on the LRT

From Hollywood hits to classical compositions, listen for familiar orchestral tunes at downtown LRT stations.

If I asked you to envision a pleasant experience, I’m willing to bet that riding public transportation doesn’t come to mind. Between the questionable smells, annoying delays, and packed train cars, it’s no surprise that Edmontonians don’t hold Edmonton Transit Service (ETS) in high regard. In an attempt to improve the experience of taking public transportation, the City of Edmonton has announced a new pilot program that will play audio recordings of orchestral music in downtown LRT stations. 

The transit system is going to need a lot more than some music to win people over, but this is absolutely a step in the right direction. Oftentimes, we become so wrapped up in our own thoughts during our commute that we forget to acknowledge our surroundings. Music is the perfect way to cut through this. Hearing familiar tunes will make transit stations far more welcoming and lively, even in the dreary winter months.

This isn’t the first time the city has incorporated art into transit stations. In previous years, the Edmonton Arts Council hung art pieces up in LRT stations. Having walked past a few of these paintings, I will admit that I have not paid much attention to them. The paintings aren’t very dissimilar from the many similarly sized and placed advertisements on transit. Music, however, is far more noticeable – it doesn’t blend in with the usual LRT environment. You can’t exactly miss it and that’s part of what makes it so great. 

In addition to creating a more enjoyable experience for riders, it also promotes the arts in Edmonton. The in-your-face approach of this program will help promote the work of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. Hopefully it’ll also create more interest in local music.

I’m interested in seeing how else the city will utilize music in its downtown vibrancy efforts — especially live music. While audio recordings are interesting, there is an incomparable charm that comes with hearing and seeing live music. Maybe the city could look into bringing some live music performances to LRT stations. This would take this program to the next level and brighten up our LRT stations even more.

Sanjeet Sandhu

Sanjeet Sandhu is the 2024-25 Summer Deputy Arts & Culture Editor.

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