World Busk 2011

12 June to 19 June 2011

World map

It began in the icy wastes of Antarctica, and ended a week later in New Zealand. In between, streets and public places around the world were treated to a string of outdoor performances that made Musequality’s 2011 World Busk one of the liveliest and most diverse yet.
Over the course of the week, 59 separate busks involving almost 500 participants took place in 16 countries. This was an extraordinary achievement, and more than £7,000 was raised for projects supported by Musequality as well as money for numerous local initiatives.

On 12 June, more than 230 people in 11 countries turned out to try and help us beat our own 2009 record for largest coordinated world busk. Sadly, we didn’t quite make it, but we are extremely proud of what everyone achieved.

If there was an award for toughest audience, it would go to the Rothera Winter Crew for their attempt to entertain a handful of uninterested penguins in Antarctica. Wettest busk probably goes to the brave performers at Bedford Park Festival Speed Busk in Chiswick, London. Both they and Fredrick Kyewalyanga and the Elgon Youth Brass Band in Uganda should also be congratulated for possibly the first ever mutual live busk, in which they played to each other via a telephone link. A strong contender for most unusual instrument must be the dulcimer played by Bryson Gerard in St Louis.

It was great to have so many schools involved, such as Grove Park Primary School in London, whose efforts continued all week. The Discovery School in Hong Kong took part to raise money for the Ban Mai Mok Cham school project in Thailand – and not to be outdone, the Ban Mai Mok school joined in too. Some events were on an impressive scale, like the choirs, bands and acts who came together in Nigeria for a day of busking to raise funds for a local music project.

One of the busk’s proudest achievements was giving a voice to Palestinian refugee children in Beirut. A group of children performed songs and classical music pieces on the violin and traditional Middle Eastern instruments in busy Hamra Street. They were from the Al Kamandjati project, a non-profit association that makes music accessible to children in Palestine and the refugee camps. Palestinians in Lebanon often have a difficult time, so it was heart-warming to hear how well the spectators received their performance.

Musequality would like to thank everyone who played and contributed, including long term supporters, The Treblemakers (the Acappella group outside South Kensington underground station); Harriet Cochrane and Isla Ratcliff in the Royal Mile, Edinburgh; Kingswood School in Grahamstown, South Africa; Angela Amati and her Orchestra in Naples, Italy; Ryeland Harp Ring in the US; the Ezra Beats in Madrid, Spain; members of the Shin Nippon Symphony Orchestra in Ramo, Japan; and many, many others.

Taking part is easy and it’s fun, too! Just register.

World Busk 2010

Manley Beach

Monday 7 June to Sunday 13 June 2010

The 2010 World Busk started on Monday 7 June and finished with a day for young musicians on Sunday 13 June. All contributions received via our US donations site were used to help rebuild music schools destroyed by the earthquake in Haiti. Thet money was shared between the Holy Trinity Music School reconstruction fund and Instrumental Change Contributions received in the UK went to support Musequality's existing projects around the world.

2010 buskersBuskers included the Mahler Chamber Orchestra with Andrew Manze in Vienna. There were buskers in Japan, Crete, Italy, Oman, and a very good turnout in the UK. US buskers included six year old Thomas Vranker (below) from Rhode Island who busked three times during the week, The Ryeland Harp Ring, a massed harp orchestra in Pennyslvania and a celtic group and The Dusty Buskers in Pittsburgh.

Thank you to everyone who took part.

Setting our world record in 2009

Buskers across the world

14 June 2009, what a day!

The Musequality World Busk day started as the midday sun moved over the international date line to Tauranga, New Zealand, where Barbershop chorus Light Relief, resplendent in colourful waistcoats, busked for hospital patients.

Gypsy jazz jangled outside Kobe railway station in Japan YouTube; students in Ban Mok Cham, our newest project performed for visiting students in Thailand YouTube three violinists entertained holiday-makers at a beach resort in India.

Bang on the equator, the M-Lisada Brass Band YouTube in Uganda experienced the hottest heat, giving the hottest beat. Johannesburg jangled with own compositions and covers; the Hout Bay Music Project kept Cape Town happy.

As the sun toppled over Europe, a violin, viola and cello played in Crete; Rotary Club members in Naples YouTube attended a concert; and 60 people sung in a hymnathon on the quarterdeck of HMS Illustrious in the Baltic Sea, in thick fog.

England, Scotland and Walesrocked, popped, jammed, chorused, fluted, brassed, bagpiped and orchestrated with soloists (aged eight, nine, 10, 12 and upwards), bands and orchestras plus a silly dance dreamed up by David Juritz for those of us in Chiswick mad enough in the midday sun to take part in his speed busk (and in 24.2°C which, for us, is pretty hot)

Three hours and 35 minutes later the strings on Danny’s guitar cable froze, Paul’s saxophone froze, Tony’s fingers froze and Riet froze – the Antarctic Minkes busked as the temperature dropped from -8°C to -15°C in Antarctica. There’s proof on Youtube YouTube.

Five hours of jazz filled the air in Catete favela, Brazil. Five acts in Stanley, Falkland Islands YouTube, were witnessed by their guitar-playing chief police officer.

Noon hitting the east coast of North America brought rock, Latin American classical guitar, Bach, Brahms and world music for the harp. After Thunder Bay, Ontario, and Boulder, Colorado, came the west coast and the last busk of the day, a battle between California and SeattleYouTube.

The last person to register a busk did so four minutes before noon chimed – in Ventnor, Isle of Wight, UK.

We had no idea what to expect from this, our first world busk, and while we can’t yet do a headcount, we think we had buskers in 48 cities or towns, in 20 countries in all seven continents. A planet-sized thank you to all of you

Buskers on the street
The world busk
more busking pics

First row: Barbershop Chorus Light Relief, New Zealand. Falkland Islands’ police chief
witnesses Vocalise with Shirley Adams Leach MBE. Angela Amato’s Sirenide for Musequality, Italy.
Second row:Tutti Flutti, Chiswick. Heidi Goldsmith, South Kensington. Taro Hakase with
London Tango Quintet, St Pancras International. Senior officers as Peruvian pipers,
HMS Illustrious. Primary school violinists, Woking.
Third row: London: Craig Ogden, London Tango Quintet. Royal College of Music Junior
string quartet. Sam Meredith and Nick Booth. Jocie Juritz awaits speed busk. Rob Juritz.
Wind Chamber Orchestra, St Pancras International.
Fourth row: Mark Fennell, Isle of Wight. Royal College of Music Junior wind quartet.
Kensington Symphony Orchestra beside the Thames. Goan picnickers join the busk, Middlesex
Fifth row: Nine year old Sarah Gordon, London. Kier the Street Musician, Weymouth.
Barbershop Capital Chorus, London. Guitarist Simon Green, London. Acephale the magician,
Seattle. The Wandering Skewers, Padstow

What you've told us

“We had a ball! The sun was shining, the wind dropped down, although there were still frozen fingers on instruments, and we played from 11.45am until 12.35pm in front of a very appreciative audience. We raised £223! Still to add any sponsor money to that of course but we were really pleased."

Shirley Adams-Leach MBEStanley, Falkland Islands

“We had a Ball!! Can't wait to find out about the overall results. Ready to Prep for Next Year!"

Kris YenneyPalo Alto Chamber Orchestra, California

“We had a good time busking. Haven't done anything like that for a long time. Everything went well. Even the weather was on our side."

Martin KegelmannOrchestra of the Welsh National Opera, Cardiff

"Well that was fun!!! The response was wonderful ... All in all it was the kids who loved it the most ... they just stayed the whole time and listened ... you gotta love them!"

Titia BlakePalm Strings Duo, Cape Town

"We're all already making plans for how to do it bigger and better next year"

Michael PartingtonSeattle

See the busks on YouTube

YouTube We’re thrilled so many of our buskers had their busks videoed. They are now on our YouTube page, in the main section or in favourites. They are all lovely but we particularly recommend you watch two remarkable busks:

  • the coolest buskers on the planet, the Antarctic Minkes
  • the ship’s company of HMS Illustrious who held a hymnathon for the world record on the Sunday as well as a whole day of busking the previous Wednesday.

Star buskers

Michael Partington Though most buskers turned out for our record-setting busk, many busked on other days or, in the case of Michael Partington, Seattle, (right) YouTube and Amery Hill School, Alton, everyday.

The Royal College of Music Junior Department drew crowds in South Kensington YouTube tube station as did Capital Chorus, a Barbershop quintet; Festive Flutes flattered the City of London; Taro Hakase stole the show in St Pancras International one day YouTube; two days later Alan Rusbridger, YouTubeeditor of UK newspaper The Guardian, dusted off his clarinet to play there in a wind chamber group.

Fiddles predominated with old time favourites and French folk songs in Victoria, Canada; a string quartet in Paris, France; classical and jazz violin in Dorchester, England. Solo guitarists, singer songwriters, Chiswick Baroque, Tutti Flutti, a bassoonist, a saxophonist and others joined in. Thank you, all.

Media coverage

If you generated, or saw/heard, media coverage about the busk please tell us where and when and send us cuttings. Meanwhile here are two we are particularly pleased about:

The Times, UK, 10th June
There’s no business like snow business – and it’s all in a good cause. More

BBC World News, 5th to 8th June
Clips of a few busk rehearsals were broadcast around the world.