This was a response I had a while back from someone to whom I was trying to explain my work.
But I think he had a point. I have recently started playing with a string quartet The Oxford Four, and in order to get experience, promote ourselves, earn some beer money, but most of all to have fun, we’ve started busking. In the weeks leading up to Christmas we managed to get a much-coveted busking pitch in Oxford’s Covered Market. It’s a good place to busk because it doesn’t matter if it’s raining, and because it’s got a roof there is an acoustic, which there isn’t always when you busk out in the open. It was lovely to watch out of the corner of my eye as people stopped to listen – and the groups of people who seemed to appreciate it the most were older people, and parents with small children in buggies. It was wonderful to watch the faces of the children as they watched us play – transfixed by Hugh’s bowing, or by Janet’s left-hand as she moved it up and down the neck of the cello. I think busking can be seen as a community music activity. I wonder if the groups (the very old and the very young) I mentioned who seemed to appreciate it the most are those most precluded from attending concerts because of the barriers put up to some by traditional classical concert formats – finishing late at night, which may be difficult for older adults who may be uncomfortable being out at night, or who might rely on public transport – or the idea that you have to sit silently and still to listen to the music – and not be able to respond with your voice or body…. I really felt during that busk that we were providing something important for people – the unfolding of live music, something to enjoy for free, something that connected them with a heritage…..
Lately I’ve been using the Pegasus Theatre cafe to work from. There is a tree sculpture full of quotes, one of them is:
“Culture – it’s what we grow people in”