Round With World With Bach and An Empty Wallet
Violinist David Juritz busks 60,000 miles to raise money for Musequality
An internationally acclaimed violinist, and Chiswick resident, has cast off his white bow tie and tails to busk his way around the world, playing Bach sonatas and partitas to raise funds for Musequality, a charity which supports musical education for the poorest children in the developing world.
David Juritz, leader of the London Mozart Players who was also lead violinist on the soundtrack of “The last King of Scotland”, is currently in Shanghai on the second leg of his tour. He hopes to meet people who will be inspired by his enthusiasm and help him raise much needed funds to set up new projects as well as support those which are already up and running.
His first stop on this leg of the tour was Hong Kong where his welcome was so warm he has been invited back in two weeks’ time to perform at two evening events. Shanghai is a different story. Here busking is barely tolerated – and can never be done for money. While introducing himself to a local journalist this morning, he was surrounded by five policemen – before he even got out his fiddle. They withdrew, but kept a close eye, when they realised he was performing for the media. He hopes for more luck in Beijing where buskers often perform in the city’s parks, again without raising funds but drawing attention to the charity.
After China he will travel to Japan, South Korea, back to Hong Kong and then on to various cities in South America before performing through America and Canada. He gets back home in the middle of October.
Between busks he is auctioning performances on eBay and offering private recitals and concerts, masterclasses coaching and teaching – in exchange for a donation.
Explaining why he is so passionate about his quest, David said: “Music gives these kids the chance to express themselves as individuals with something to offer, instead of being seen as a problem,” explained Juritz. “The idea of Musequality is to help set up choirs, bands and orchestras which encourage communal musical activity. The experience of making music together can be a tremendously socialising influence, especially for children with precious little else in their lives.”
Musequalty is already supporting a project in Kampala, Africa, at The Tender Talents Magnet School in collaboration with the Kampala Music School (KMS). The school, founded in 1999, cares for teenaged AIDS orphans, children from the poorest of Kampala’s community and has recently begun taking in children escaping the Northern Conflict.
So far on his journey, which began in June, the bemused pedestrians of Rome, Vienna, Johannesburg, Sydney and Singapore have passed by, unaware that the fiddler, donned in jeans and T-shirt, usually attracts a well-heeled, captive audience to hear his Bach interpretations.
As he busks his way round the world, he aims to make connections and organise exchanges – of skills, time, musical instruments and experience – between different countries so that many more disadvantaged children can benefit.
“There is now a well-established link between regular musical activity and improvements in educational achievement. Those kids perform better in a whole range of tests: numeracy, pattern-recognition and problem-solving not to mention the social skills they learn. Music is about asserting yourself in a positive way and, in an unequal world, it’s a great way, for instance, for girls to challenge gender inequality. Of course we’re happy to produce musicians, but we also want to produce children with the confidence to believe they can become the teachers, doctors and business leaders of tomorrow. Basically, if you’re interested in helping kids develop, this is an efficient, cost effective way of investing your money.”
With the comforts of his London home and job now far behind him, David has to rely on his busking donations to survive and fund his travel. Apart from a bruised ego and sore feet he has managed to stick to his itinerary – and maintain a sense of humour. Before setting off for this latest leg of his tour, he took time out in Chiswick to practise riding a unicycle while playing Bach. You can see the results on YouTube (www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mk8mFPZxM8E).
September 3, 2007