Urban Music: A way to escape poverty

I am posting the second article I wrote for the THINK3: European Blogging Competition.

To go to the original post click here.

URBAN MUSIC: A WAY TO ESCAPE POVERTY

By Andrea Arzaba

Since I arrived to Spain, by the end of January, I have realized that music is a very important part of Madrid’s urban lifestyle. It is quite common to see performers playing different instruments on the main capital city streets, inside the underground stations or on the weekends, at the main local parks.

Last week I decided to approach a musician that caught my attention since the beginning. Every day of the week he plays the violin at “Ciudad Universitaria” subway station, the one that Complutense University students take to get to the main university campus. This musician is often playing different types of music: From Bach and Mozart to Lord of the Rings main theme, including Disney’s Lion King movie soundtrack.

His name is Benjamin, and he comes from Dâmboviţa, a town near Bucharest in Romania. “I came to Spain in 2006 with my wife’s brother, he also plays music… the guitar but he went back to Romania and I stayed in Spain” said the musician, as he held his instrument with an evident affection.

Explaining his situation, Benjamin told me why he came to Spain: “in my country, as a music professor, I do not earn much money. A friend invited me to come to Spain saying that every day I would earn around 50 Euros, so this convinced me”. In order to earn this quantity of money, he plays every day of the week around 7-8 hours.

Benjamin is the perfect example of an urban music migration phenomenon happening in big European cities, such as London, Paris or Madrid. It is common to see performing on the streets immigrants from Africa, Latin America or Eastern Europe.

“Poverty is the biggest problem in Romania,” he explained. “There are two types (of poverty): one that comes of rich people that have stolen a lot of money, the other type comes with workers that earn money to just live day by day, and they are manipulated, like any other soviet country.”

Students and people that pass the station where he plays, admire his music. He is well known around the student community and even if he is far away from his family and friends in Romania, he maintains a positive attitude towards life “Music helps making life happier. I believe in a better world”.

Video of urban musicians in Madrid’s subway station. Video posted on youtube by chelonawira.

Image by Flickr user: Harry marmot

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