Street Philharmonic Puts Street Musicians On Stage
In cities around the world you’ll find struggling musicians and artists, homeless included, presenting their work on street corners, putting their hopes in the generosity and interest of passers-by.
Ze-Ze, a social organization from Israel, decided to empower these hidden talents and created the Street Philharmonic, a musical ensemble that unites a group of street artists.
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The street philharmonic project
Ze-Ze got interested in street musicians a few years ago and found out who they are, where they come from and why they’re playing on the street. As it turned out, Ze-Ze says, many of them have a very rich musical background. Some even played in upscale orchestras in their countries of origin, or were teachers in musical academies. However, when they moved to Israel they weren’t able to melt into the local music world.
The Street Philharmonic project integrates a group of approximately ten street musicians into an ensemble led by the musician Tom Darom. Winkler says that the project gives benefit to the artists in the following way: “The musicians, many of whom have had very difficult experiences with the process of absorption in Israel, are given the opportunity to facilitate their musical capabilities, to enjoy performing in a group, and to top it off they receive a descent and steady salary.”
The Street Philharmonic’s style is heavily influenced by Balkan, Russian, Greek, and Klezmer musical sounds. They perform in a big-band type ensembles that includes, among others, backup singers, percussions, a bass guitarist, a lead singer, keyboard players.
Their most recent show was held in the Barby club, a popular Tel Aviv concert venue, where they were accompanied by Ehud Banai, one of Israel’s most famous musicians.
“Among its many goals, the importance of the Street Philharmonic is the call to the citizens of Tel Aviv, to make them aware of the many wonderful musicians sitting on street corners and bring their stories to light.”
Ze-Ze calls itself an “active and involved community that uses natural talents for social projects of all sorts.” Their aim is to help develop a social capital of people that that can improve their society as well.
Jonathan Winkler, one of the organization’s founders, tells NoCamels, “the Ze-Ze organization’s goal is to promote social action among young people. We emphasize that everyone should contribute through something they love to do. If for example, someone has a hobby such as film making, he comes to us and we find a way for him to utilize his talent to ultimately benefit others.”
“The project’s participants receive mentoring, funds and the connections needed from the community, in order bring unique social projects to life,” Winkler says. The projects are all funded by income generated from other Ze-Ze projects and events.
Photos courtesy of Ze-Ze