All the world’s a stage and the streets of England are no exception. The most captivating concert shows take place in the open space by talented music artists, captivating audiences with their impressive tunes. If the most renown performances take place on the cobbles of Covent Garden, you can hear songs of an emotional depth in any given city centre, whether you’re looking to be entertained or just inspired. This is the street music art.
Street performers – or buskers – are the producers of our city soundtrack. They have travelled all over England for centuries, to varying degrees of success, and have been adopted as part of the British way of life. Thanks to social media platforms, such as Facebook, YouTube, TikTok and different streaming services, the audience for street performers has grown from dozens to millions – one newspaper reports.
I met Shiki the Violinist on a sunny day of September, in the vibrant streets of York, captivating audiences with a blend of classical violin infused with famous music covers of an incredible beauty and impressive emotional depth.
Shiki is from Tokyo, Japan. She is travelling around the world as a street violinist from 2013. Asked how she discovered her passion for music, she said: “When things weren’t going well, I used music to express my state of mind. When I first started doing street performances, there was a woman who heard my music and said that the bad things in her day went away. Anyone can enjoy performing on the street in an unexpected way. It ay take courage to go to a concert when you’re feeling down. However, it would be a wonderful thing if a performance on the street that you happened to stumble upon could heal the soul of that person.” Street music can become a lifelong career or simply a way to develop audiences. I couldn’t help but notice a certain candour in romanticising a song with the help of the violin.
The song that has a positive impact on the public is “Stand By Me”.
“It is a very good song because it’s a song that my audience has no problem listening to when they’re sad or happy. There are times when I can’t capture the heart of the audience, even if I only play upbeat songs.”
Shiki has her own impressive YouTube channel, she is active on Facebook and Instagram and has plenty of music to showcase. “I will be performing in Taiwan from Christmas to Lunar New Year. Around Valentine’s Day until the Easter holidays, I will be performing in Australia.”
The special connection that occurs between the public and street music performers blends all the sensitive acoustic instruments into live performances, intuitive and improvised. But perhaps what makes the art of street music so unique is the ability to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and discover those special qualities that make them truly unique.