April 4th, 2008
03:00 PM ET
14 years ago

Flute master Zamfir surprises press corps


Watch Zamfir's performance.

BUCHAREST, Romania (CNN) - It wasn't exactly a typical last day at the NATO summit – at least not for some members of the White House press corps.

As President Bush and other world leaders gathered behind closed doors for private meetings, journalists monitoring the events from a nearby hotel were paid an unexpected visit from an American cult figure – Zamfir, master of the pan flute.

For those who may not remember, Gheorghe Zamfir is probably best known for the late 80s/early 90s commercials that aired on CNN.

(As several colleagues have said, Zamfir paid their salaries for a long time.) But Zamfir is a true musical maestro, with a host of Hollywood movie credits, including performing for the soundtracks of Kill Bill and the Karate Kid. (Who can forget those musical montages of Daniel Larusso training for the big tournament? That pan flute was Zamfir.)

How the Romanian musician came to visit the workspace is a story in itself. Basically, he's a friend of a friend of a local Romanian working for a U.S. television network. He planned to stop by the workspace for just a brief visit to say hello, but quickly had the press corps buzzing with excitement. I asked him afterwards what he thought when he walked in and received … well, a rock star's reception.

"Shocked. When I met them, I wasn't, no words in my mouth. What's happened with me?" Zamfir said.

He immediately phoned 6 other musicians who arrived with instruments in hand. For nearly 30 minutes, Zamfir and the 7- piece ensemble performed for journalists, and even some curious White House staffers, who had gathered to watch.

Among them was veteran CBS News correspondent Bill Plante.

"I can safely say that since I've been covering the White House, which began in 1981, before the Zamfir commercials were on CNN, before CNN, I've never seen anything like this," Plante said.

Asked to explain the excitement, Plante responded, "Because it's something different. We've been sitting here trying to make news out of the NATO summit and now we have music."

Indeed, media file centers are usually situated in windowless hotel conference rooms where journalists can sometimes spend 16 hours working.

Zamfir and his music brightened the mood. When he was gone, the workspace fell quiet again. But the air was lighter somehow, thanks to our unexpected visitor.

Filed under: Uncategorized
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. Veterans for Obama

    What the....tell me how this has any bearing on anything.

    April 4, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  2. Photon Torpedo

    LOL!!! Okay CNN I don't really know why this is on the ticker but okay... who doesn't love Zamfir.

    Yes We Can & Yes We Should!
    Obama 08'

    Photon Torpedo
    Dallas, TX

    April 4, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  3. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Bush behind closed doors with other diplomats is scary because the results will prove to be devastating for the American economy. He has a history of selling America out.

    April 4, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  4. Ric

    Hillary must win or the 'Dems' won't get in

    April 4, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  5. Obama Supporter

    And what, exactly, is the connection between the pan-flautist and the Political Ticker? lol

    April 4, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  6. Larry Buchas

    What is this?

    April 4, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  7. Dave

    Thank you for this article CNN. It brought back the memory of a dear old friend. He always referred to Zamfir as ' the spare rib guy' 'cause he looked like he was sucking on a bunch of spare ribs. I haven't talked to him in a while. I'll give him a call.

    April 4, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  8. Utah Teacher

    Some soothing music to calm the seething bloggers...

    April 4, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  9. Key West Sun

    Zamfir is about the only thing good to come from this trip,
    maybe if he had done this sooner, Randi would have had something else to spark her imagination,

    April 4, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  10. Chris Macsurak

    In a word: Zamfir! ...or ShaZam, take your pick.

    April 4, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  11. Bros B4 Hos

    Can you play at Obama's Presidential Inaguration?

    April 4, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  12. canadians for obama

    really cool music. quite generous of him. and i agree in a summit discussing war coalitions zamfir's music brightened up the place.

    April 4, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  13. Jim

    Wrong on 2 counts Ric !

    April 4, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  14. a m

    He was playing his pan flute in concerts all over the world.

    April 4, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  15. Conan

    Zamfir for Prez!!!!! Repubs and Dems alike would vote for him!!! He could unite the country....nay the WORLD!!!!

    April 4, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  16. I used to be a Democrat

    Awesome. Zamfir one cool cat.

    April 4, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  17. Frieda

    What a nice gesture and example of Romanian hospitality. Can we not just accept it for what it is rather than turn it into a political rant? Thank you CNN for showing us a slice of journalistic life.

    April 4, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  18. frank

    Best. Story. Ever.

    Good job CNN...my faith in you has been restored.

    April 4, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  19. Alberto

    Great article CNN. Amazing journalism.

    April 4, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  20. Ken

    Isn't this how we got into Iraq? Bush goes behing closed doors to think up lies to implement the pre-determined strategy to invade Iraq, while the "Zamfir-like" neo-con circus led by the VP enthralled press/media with siren songs and acrobatics with the truth.

    They counted on the press being dummer than the people who voted for them -– and they got what they counted on.

    April 4, 2008 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  21. TheLeftNut

    WOW! This really turns the tides in the Democratic Primary race.

    April 4, 2008 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |