Busking Around the World

Violinist David Juritz busking in front of Karlskirche | Photo: British Embassy

Photo: David Juritz

David Juritz

Violinist David Juritz busking in front of Karlskirche | Photo: British Embassy

Vienna, the “City of Music,” is accustomed to visits by internationally renowned artists. But when one of Britain’s finest violinists takes to the Vienna streets to play a few Bach partitas for coins on the steps of Karlskirche, even the absent-minded look up and listen.

It’s not that David Juritz, South-African-born concertmaster of the renowned London Mozart Players, is exactly in need of funds. The money dropped into his case contributed towards his Round the World and Bach busking tour raise money for Musequality, his UK-based charity.

The tour began in London on June 9th with a stop in Vienna on June 12th and 13th, and will support projects to enable children in developing countries to learn musical instruments. The approach follows other successful models, such as El Sistema (The System) in Venezuela, where several hundred thousand children are trained every year and play together in youth orchestras.

Musequality’s first project will be starting in October 2007 in Uganda to support the Kampala Music School, which cares for AIDS orphans and children for the poorest parts of the community. An initial investment of € 55,000 will cover costs for the first two years. To raise those funds, Juritz released a CD entitled On the Road, with unaccompanied Bach and violin concerti by Vivaldi with the London Mozart Players was released, the sales of which entirely contributes to that important cause.

The CD is available online at roundtheworldandbach.com; donations for the project of     € 30 or more receive a signed copy.

On Jun. 13, after he finished his stint on the street, Juritz headed over to the residence of British Ambassador John Macgregor for a special private performance, accompanied by his host on the piano.

The evening merged the charm of an English garden party with the Viennese Hausmusik tradition at the residence in Vienna’s third district.

The strictness of the security at the gate, requiring the ‘early birds’ to wait outside the security zone across the street, was quickly forgotten once inside the majestic building, a small 19th century Vienna Palais, beautifully appointed. Inside the gate, we received a very warm personal welcome by the Ambassador in the garden, and slobbered over affectionately by his  dog, a golden retriever.

In the back garden, some 80 guests mingled, a circle of musical insiders –musicians, ambassadors and cultural secretaries of other national embassies, friends and the occasional journalist, where everybody knew everyone, or at least had friends in common, and small talk bubbled over the cool drinks of a summer evening.

Here and there, a fragment of music floated over the chatter from a farther room, signalizing the final rehearsal in one of the larger halls. And then it was time for the performance.

Ambassador Macgregor stepped forward.

“You will be glad to hear that we have actually decided on the pieces we are going to play for you,” he said with a twinkle. “But none of us looked at the music before 4 o’clock this afternoon…”

It all was a fine gathering of musicians who rose to the occasion that afternoon. Hannah and Lucas Medlam on the violins with Oscar Bohorquez alternating solo voices with David Juritz in the Bach Double Violin Concerto that opened the program. Charles Medlam supported on ‘cello, accompanied by Macgregor and Huw Rhys James at the piano.

Photo: David Juritz

They played baroque concerti by Bach, Vivaldi and Telemann and of works by British composers like Edward Elgar an Gustav Holst. Oscar Bohorque German-born violinist of Southern American descent studying in Vienna gave a particularly stunning performance of a Tango by Astor Piazzolla, which added fire to the baroque programming, and was warmly received by the audience.

“I admire the musicianship of all those I have performed with tonight. It was absolutely wonderful music-making,” Juritz commented at the end. And as demanding as this might have been to perform a one-hour ad hoc program, charmingly presented by Amb. MacGregor and full of improvisation, there was also an undeniable sense of excitement, and the joy of playing together.

Juritz closed the evening by introducing Musequality and the origin of the idea of busking the world for a good cause. It had begun with memories of “busking with Bach” when he was young.

“I enjoyed it immensely. That’s where this idea came from,” he told us. “But if I had allowed myself to think about it for three seconds, I might have decided otherwise!”

Still, the audience was very appreciative that evening, contributing about €1,000 to the Kampala Music Project, so the busker did not leave Vienna empty handed.

 

Web link: www.musequality.org 

 

Donations can be made online on the Musequality website.

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