I walked to New World to get my usual fix of Cookie Time cookies that I’ve slowly become addicted to. As I walked the short distance to the metro supermarket the street was filled with a sorrow sound of trumpet. As I walked past I looked into his case and saw a tiny sum totalling no more than $4. As I entered the store he began ‘Its A Wonderful Life.’
This got me thinking about the singer I saw in Auckland the other week. Like the trumpet player the daily traffic of commuters rushed past to get there buses or trains not giving a single moment of their time to stop and listen. With this opera singer I along with another did pause. He a little closer. I stayed in the shadows so I wouldn’t feel pressured into contributing to the change pot that lay before her feet and made sure that eye contact was avoidable. She was really rather good. I along with the other guy stopped and listened for several minutes. He applauded at the end but failed to contribute to her livelihood and like me went on his merry way feeling just a little better for hearing a rather beautiful poetic voice radiating from such a talent.
Today along with the trumpeter and the memory of the opera singer, I noticed a guitar player. Again people rushed on by without stopping or giving a second look. Maybe it’s just part of the general ambience of Wellington. These sounds are part of the daily mix that go into the cacophony of Wellingtons sound track. Lets be honest the blind guy on Market Street in Manchester gets no attention from me, nor does the countless other musicians that plague Manchester’s city centre. To me it’s the daily background noise and like me, maybe Wellingtonians just drown out the music with their own thoughts or are able to just ignore and think nothing of it. The strange things about cities is you only notice the silence.
Normally I would dismiss these music beggars as well and just let the music form part of the symphony of my daily life along with car horns, sirens, alarms, engines and chatter. After all in the UK I will happily bypass and not even give a knowing glance. But after the report a couple of months ago, maybe even longer I now stop and listen.
The news article was about a violinist in a New York subway. Only one child stopped to listen who was promptly pulled away by his mother, several people discarded small change from their pockets in his general direction but no one stopped to listen. The player happened to be headlining at the theatre that night, as he was a world famous violinist and tickets for the performance were being sold for $400 plus. The point I suppose I’m making is that people pay small fortunes to listen to music being played live, but yet when it’s in the street and with no sign informing us of the musicians ability we happily walk on by. How many famous musicians or singers have we walked by and ignored only to think they were a busker. One of my favourite solo artists at te moment, regularly busks in cities that he has concerts in, and again people walk on by. Some, who knows may be attending the gig that night.
I’m just hoping that one day I’d be able to say I heard her on the corner of Queen street, or say see him, he was performing on Willis Street outside New Word the other week for free and you’ve just paid $400 to see him in a theatre.
Or maybe I will discard a bit if my lose change to say thank you.