David Juritz is a remarkable individual on so many levels. Born in Cape Town South Africa, he won a scholarship to study at London’s Royal College of Music, where he won all the major prizes for violin, including the college’s highest award, the Tagore Medal.
On leaving the RCM, he joined the English Chamber Orchestra. From 1991 to 2010 he was the leader of the London Mozart Players, the longest serving leader in that orchestra’s history. He made many appearances as soloist and director with them, including his debut at the 2006 BBC Promenade Concerts. He has also directed and/or appeared as soloist with the Royal Philharmonic, Zurich Chamber Orchestra, Mozart Festival Orchestra, Johann Strauss Orchestra, London Concert Orchestra and many other ensembles.
He is one of the most versatile violinists in the UK, dividing his time between solo performances, directing, chamber music, working as guest leader with many of Britain’s finest orchestras and leading his own group, the London Tango Quintet.
In addition to this, Juritz did and amazing thing. In 2007, he took a five-month sabbatical to busk around the world. He describes how it all transpired: “As I was approaching my 50th birthday, I took stock. With a long-held unrealised ambition – to busk round the world – and a need to do something a bit different, I decided it was now or never. A round-the-world busk for charity.”
“I had been inspired by the work of organisations like El Sistema in Venezuela and Buskaid in South Africa. Both support music education for children, and I wanted to do something to help teachers start similar projects in developing countries. Since no charity existed that was dedicated to helping teachers over the first and biggest hurdle – buying instruments and setting up the project – Musequality was formed to fill this gap.”
The plan was simple. Juritz left his home with his fiddle, backpack and an empty wallet, busking his way around the world. Since he would focus on the solo violin repertoire of Johann Sebastian Bach, the enterprise was creatively titled “Round the World and Bach”. He busked in over 50 towns and cities in 24 countries in every continent (with the exception of Antarctica!), with the final stop at the British Prime Minister’s residence, 10 Downing Street. Juritz played through all of Bach’s six sonatas and partitas for solo violin as he went along; he estimates that he must have played theE major prelude from Partita no. 3 over 300 times, and the famous Chaconne about 180 times.
And so Musequality (www.musequality.org), a charity that supports music education for disadvantaged children in developing countries, was born. And since the charity itself owed its genesis to busking, World Busk (www.worldbusk.org) was launched as well as an annual event. Each year, for a week in June, musicians all over the world busk ie. (perform in public places to raise funds) for Musequality projects around the world, in Uganda, Kenya, India and Thailand. World Busk is a truly global affair
Musequality was a huge source of encouragement and support in getting Child’s Play India Foundation off the ground. I met with Juritz in London shortly after his round-the-world busk, and just before my wife and I returned to India to set up Child’s Play.
Child’s Play has participated in World Busk since its inception in 2009, and each time our events keep getting bigger and better. For many years, we were the solitary dot on the subcontinent on the World Busk map, in stark contrast to the abundant number of busking events in the United Kingdom, Europe, North America, Australia and south-East Asia. This year we are joined in Mumbai by the NSPA, the National Streets for Performing Arts. The World Busk week has also drawn the attention of the national press this year, with coverage by the Indian Express and the Hindustan Times.
World Busk 2014 runs from 9-15 June. Child’s Play India Foundation is celebrating it by hosting two charity concerts, on 14 & 15 June in association with Gallery Gitanjali Fontainhas Panjim and Aldona Institute respectively. The concerts will feature Camerata Child’s Play India in a programme that will include Mozart’s delightful Divertimento in D major, K 136 (125a); Gioseffo Hectore Fiocco’s Allegro arranged for string ensemble by Elaine Fine; and in a nod to JS Bach who has played such a major role in the creation of World Busk, we will play an arrangement of his famous Cantata no. 205, “Sheep may safely graze”.
The evenings will also present our Child’s Play kids, playing individually and in groups, and with our Camerata musicians. The will be a couple of children from other walks of life too, making the music-making enterprise a truly egalitarian one.
Camerata Child’s Play India was created a year ago in April 2013, with the aim not only of giving young Goan musicians a chance to perform in public, and to hone their skills in regular ensemble playing alongside the visiting musicians of very high calibre who come to work with Child’s Play; but it was also created with the aim of eventually giving our Child’s Play kids a platform to play along with us, once they advanced to a certain level. I am pleased to say that this day has come.
We will have Irfan Shimpighar, one of our violin kids from Panjim share a desk in the violin section at these concerts. I am confident that this number will increase, and the day is not far off when we will have a Junior Camerata made up of our Child’s Play kids.
Other musicians are joining into. Classical guitarist Shyamant Behal will play a few pieces, adding to the eclectic mix of music on offer. The concerts are free and open to all.