Monday, October 22, 2007

Music and Social Issues

Yefim Bronfman in New York has pulled a stunt similar to that by Joshua Bell who went and busked in the underground in Washington earlier this year. Both performances were at around 8 am, when people were rushing to work. Not the best time.

It's worth mentioning that Bronfman is a pianist. This makes busking rather more complicated. No running up to somewhere, opening the lid of your case and away you go. A grand piano had to be installed. This event was announced, so there was no surprise for the audience, and some hardy fans had arrived early and installed themselves close to the piano. Hence there was applause and everything, rather than people keeping their heads down and rushing past. One of the people rushing past was someone with a cello on her back....heard it all before, sort of thing? Where could a cellist be going at 8 in the morning?

This little effort was not just an experiment, but part of an action with the Food Bank on the 'going orange' week, which highlights the plight of hungry New Yorkers. You think there are none? Apparently there are over a million New Yorkers who rely on the help of food banks, with a million using the 900 soup kitchens, and others using the food bank programme because they cannot get food stamps (though they may be eligible for them). The poverty rate among children is 32% (as it was in the UK until the late 1990's - it's dropped to 25%). The frightening thing is that even working families need support from the food bank.

Bronfman's concert was also an extremely laudable effort to publicise an auction for a concert by him at your home; see this website; in addition you get a Steinway grand for 6 months to tinkle on. The next bid needs to be 6,500 USD. I suspect that if you live way beyond New York you need not apply...(says she, living in a fifth floor flat in Vilnius - the piano removers would go crazy!).

It's great, this linking of classical music and social inclusion - everyone should do something like this! Thanks to the Spanish-speaking la Coctelera for the links!