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"The whole place was shaking quite badly, but she went right on playing," said concert organizer Hiroshi Mizutani about the pianist whose performance happened to fall on Day 3 of an attempt by Japanese musicians to win themselves a listing in the Guinness Book of World Records. Day 3? Yes, well, the effort involved more than 900 instrumentalists (ranging from ages 6 to 89) who were trying to break the old mark of 182 consecutive hours. So, round the clock, with breaks of not longer than five minutes between pieces, the Japanese reeled off numbers by classical composers (among them Beethoven) and pop artists such as the Beatles. Not in a concert hall either, mind you – but at one of the stations in Japan's railway system. It all began Friday, March 23, and was humming right along until 9:42 a.m. Sunday, when a magnitude 6.9 earthquake jolted the region, toppling buildings, cutting electricity and telephone service, and sending residents fleeing in panic to shelters. If the pianist had stopped, the record would have remained with the Canadians who set it five years ago. But she tickled the ivories as though nothing had happened. The challenge ended last Saturday with a lot of exhausted musicians and a new record: 184 hours.

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