Guerrilla gigs to take place in Merton


Reporter Kerry-Ann Virgo investigates the spontaneous violin concerts due to take place in Merton


By Kerry-Ann Virgo

INTERNATIONAL violinist, Jack Glatzer, is set to perform a series of guerrilla gigs in Merton’s town centres on November 19. 

Glatzer has played on every continent and in over fifty countries at venues such as Sydney Opera House, the Hong Kong Arts Centre and London’s own South Bank Centre.  His next stop is Merton, where he will play impromptu sets to shoppers and passers-by in Morden, Colliers Wood, Wimbledon, Raynes Park and Mitcham.

Kerry-Ann Virgo caught up with the man behind the idea, Merton Council’s Arts Development Officer, Asheq Akhtar, to find out more.

The idea to bring a world-renowned violinist to Merton is definitely different.  Why did you decide to organise the events? 

As Wimbledon Music Festival takes place primarily in one part the borough, we (as the arts team) thought that it’d be an exciting and innovative opportunity to have one of the festivals virtuosos play right across the borough. Not only will the events draw attention to the festival, but they also give us a chance to create some free public arts experiences.

How do you think the community will react?  

As we’ve never done this before, I have no idea. I can only say how I’d feel if it happened in my area, so I’m hoping spectators experience unexpected excitement and happiness!

What are you aiming to achieve with the gigs? 

World peace. Failing that, the provision of dynamic sets as performed by one of the greatest classical soloists of our time along with raised awareness of an elusive art will have to suffice.

How will this help struggling town centres, such as Mitcham?

Well, I can’t see it fixing any long-term problems in the borough, but it’s not devised for that. The overall purpose of the tour is to increase access to art. Classical music has an elitist image, but ultimately, it’s just music. And, unless plagued by amusia, everyone is affected by music.

Won’t people just think he’s an excellent busker?  How will you put the message of what you’re doing across? 

I think we’ll have a portable banner up, along with some leaflets about the Wimbledon Music Festival. We’ll also be on hand to chat to the audience if they have any questions. Jack won’t be alone, he’ll have us as his little entourage…

What other efforts are the council making to revamp struggling parts of Merton?

There’s a lot of regeneration work being put into place by various teams here (Pollard’s Hill’s new revamped library opened recently), and we’re working in partnership with many of them to deliver on targets. During the recession, economic growth is fundamental so we’re doing our best to make Merton bloom! Keep an eye on for updates.

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