It is not an uncommon sight--a muscian playing in the subway for passersby's spare change, and often overlooked.
But in this case it was a social experiement.
It was filmed.
And now has nearly 3 million views on YouTube.
The video and description of events is making the rounds, and causing people to pause and think differently about their surroundings.
The violinist in the video played for about 45 minutes, and had over 1,000 people walk by. Few paused to listen, fewer reached into their pockets for change. The most poinient of observations--little kids who pulled on their parent's hands to stop and listen, only to be pushed along in order to catch a train.
Of course there is a surprise reveal to the video. The muscian was world-reknowned musician Joshua Bell, playing a $3.5 million violin.
"No one knew it, but the fiddler standing against a bare wall outside the Metro in an indoor arcade at the top of the escalators was one of the finest classical musicians in the world, playing some of the most elegant music ever written on one of the most valuable violins ever made. His performance was arranged by The Washington Post as an experiment in context, perception and priorities -- as well as an unblinking assessment of public taste: In a banal setting at an inconvenient time, would beauty transcend?"
Only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over.
In the end, out of one-thousand passersby, exactly one person recognized Bell, and she didn't arrive until near the very end, and had just seen him perform at another free concert--this one at the Library of Congress.
You can read the full investigative report in The Washington Post.