A unique tribute to the National Arts Centre Orchestra was unveiled Tuesday, consisting of 12,500 curved toothpicks — and it may be the first of its kind in the world.

The "Toothpick Orchestra," a model of the NAC Orchestra, was painstakingly created by Ottawa resident Go Sato, who moved to Canada 41 years ago and has worked at Agri-Food Canada as a scientific illustrator for decades.

It took Sato three years to make the model, including three weeks of his holidays to finish it.

The model of 61 musicians is modeled on a Beethoven romantic orchestra. Only the conductor and percussionist are standing, while the rest are seated on chairs or stools.


A model of the NAC Orchestra made of 12,500 toothpicks was unveiled Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of the NAC)

"Two of the  musicians, the principal cello (who is wearing high heels) and the principal double bass (who holds his bow with an underhand grip and sits on a backless stool), were created with the NAC Orchestra’s Amanda Forsyth and Joel Quarrington in mind," according to an NAC news release.

"I believe that my toothpick orchestra is the first in the world. I am so happy it is of the NAC Orchestra, Canada’s Orchestra. I want to give it to the NAC because Canada has given me so much in my life, and I love classical music," Sato said.

The model was officially unveiled at the NAC foyer Tuesday and will be on public display on Canada Day.

But the toothpick orchestra isn't the first gift Sato has given the NAC: He built a model of the Parliament Buildings using only NAC ticket stubs. That model was also displayed Tuesday.