Busking in Helsinki trams

Mario ParizekMario Parizek is one of the artists performing in Helsinki trams. Photo: Mayera Heij

Something of the chance nature of urban life is epitomised in the fact that one can find a busking act either ear-splittingly horrid or pure pleasure to the ears. Whether you are for or against X-Factor style auditions for buskers, this year’s IHME Project brings an element of surprise to the everyday of those taking the tram.

Commissioned from the Czech artist Kateřina Šedá the Tram Buskers’ Tour will showcase world-class street buskers from Europe’s four corners – all of them familiar with performing to a public unprepared to listen to them. “One can learn a lot from busking,” says Ester Švábková performing with her duo The Entropies. “The experience prepares you also for performing in a concert. Your performance – your mood, how well you play – can’t depend on what the passers-by think and how they react. There will always be people who dislike your music.”

Contrary to the impression one easily gets from public debate, the buskers performing on streets and squares do not exclusively consist of amateurs just beginning their musical careers, trying to supplement their income through the generosity of the public.

“Some people tell us to ‘get a Job’, but most people love it, they tell us to get off the streets and play bigger shows and stages. Little do they know that we’re already established, but we stay humble, busking will always be our roots, we choose to do it, it keeps us grounded and focused,” say Chloe Bebbington and Reuben Hester, playing in Hester and Holly Rose.

From lute songs to sax improvisation

The audience at concerts and other music events is usually devoted to a certain genre of music, and radio stations rarely have playlists that encompass the whole spectrum of music. So the mobile venue is not the only exceptional feature of the IHME Project – it’s line-up, breaking down the barriers between musical genres, is another. The music performed on the Tour ranges from the most intimate tunes played by Bence Boka with his Renaissance lute to Sybren Renema’s sax improvisation.

Do join us and take the tram for a closer listen!

The musicians taking part in the tour are listed here. Our series of Facebook posts presenting them starts soon – follow us and get posting!