My visitors today

Sunday 2 August 2009

Back outside, playing in the streets

"Sketching on a train", 1979, Susie Mallett by Susie Mallett

The party last night was a great success, as was my whole day today.

I got up late, I painted a picture and I chatted to my dad for an hour. I also talked to my lovely German conductor friend.

I have packed up my broken camera to return to the manufacturer and I sat out on the balcony with tea and cake and my sketch book for what seemed like hours, until the rain drove me indoors.

I have been waiting since six o'clock for the rain to stop so that I might walk up the road to soak up a bit more of the musical atmosphere in the city.

I have been out for just over an hour and I have walked at the most half a mile from my front door. During this space and time I have already heard eight different music ensembles and expect to hear at least one more before I walk through the tunnel to pass under the city wall and head back home.

Before I do that I am sitting on a bench outside the city hall, enjoying two lots of music at once, one in my left ear from the stage outside the Frauenkirche and another in my right ear from the stage outside St. Sebalduskirche where I was on Friday evening.

Only these two of the eight performers that I have already heard were invited guests on official stages, the others were buskers.

Anyone and everyone can set up on a street corner the only rule is not to tread on anyone’s toes, not get too near to the next musician. A couple of hundred yards is enough unless of course the music is amplified then a few words of agreement need to be exchanged.

The buskers find some really good improvised stages. Archways in the old city wall, shop doorways with a step or two to give a bit of height, and alcoves in the outer church walls, are also favoured. Many just stand in the middle of the cobbled streets and begin to play and sing.

Soloist, duos, trios and complete bands with amplifiers. I have seen them all in the short time that I have been out and about having waited for a break in the rain clouds.

There were two highlights this evening

The first was the group of three young girls, each about ten years old, with three stools, three music stands, two violins and a flute, sitting in the baker’s shop doorway near Albrecht Dürer Platz. They had quite a big appreciative audience as they went through their classical repertoire.

The other highlight was on the big stage in the Market Place. As I walked through to the best ice-cream dealer in town the crowd was growing and the whistling had started. By the time I had my mango and yoghurt ice in my hand and had started the walk back towards home, the fun had started on centre stage.

Really funky jazz was being played by a tiny woman who was producing this amazing sound from an enormous Alpine horn.

I have heard Alpine horns played before. I have actually heard a whole orchestra of them playing in the St Sebaldus church just around the corner but they didn’t sound at all like this.

Twenty-four-year-old Eliana Burki from Switzerland has been playing the Alpine horn since she was six years old. That must have been a sight. Tonight she is playing with her band Heartbeat and after two songs she has the audience eating out of her hand. It is an amazing sight, this tiny woman on the stage dancing with a huge Alpine horn!

That was a real treat, and so near to home.

Blogging on a bench

I am sitting writing this on a bench at the back of the St. Sebaldus church. A busking rock band has just packed up its equipment, finding it hard to compete with the funky Alpine horn, perhaps also wanting to take a look themselves.

The wind is blowing up again and with it the rain clouds, and cold feet. So with the ice cream eaten and the blog posting almost finished I am going to walk a slow walk home that will take me past all my favourite shops. The Russian trinket shop, with a half-price sale, the silhouette- cutting picture shop and the lead-model shop. It will be an extremely slow walk as I will have my nose pressed to the windows of the model shop for ages searching for a tree for my railway layout!

There will of course be more delays if another of my favourites, Brigit Endre, is playing in her Atelier Café by Tiergärtner Tor next to the tunnel that leads to my flat.


I was right, the walk home was slow and there was still more music to listen to. Not Brigit Endres, she had packed up for the night, but a medieval troupe was standing just by the city wall, looking and sounding tremendous. They were a group of singers that you know from the first moment will not be singing one note out of tune. A lovely note to walk the 600 paces home on.

And still no rain.


Now the music is over until the open-air classic in the City Park next Sunday, and it is back to work in the morning.

Not only conductive work but work that I find to do through Cyberspace There are ideas sparking for more blog postings.


Eliana Burki

Brigit Endres-

Café im Atelier -

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