From their CD

There seems to be an abundance of talent in Berlin.  Everywhere you turn, some artistic event is going on.  Whether it’s an artist painting a river scene along the Spree, a trio of people playing a violin concerto in front of the Staatsoper, or a group of jazz singers wandering among the street cafes and restaurants of Friedrichshain, performance art is ubiquitous in this city.

Last month, while I was at an open air shopping mall, I heard what seemed to be an organ recital.  To my amazement it turned out to be two musicians playing accordions.  Yes, accordions!   For those of you old enough to remember, it’s the musical instrument Lawrence Welk use to play. You know, the kind of music your grandparents or great-parents loved to hear. 

These guys weren’t playing polkas or oompha music but Bach, Vivaldi, Mozart, and Rossini.  It was incredible.  As I stood among the large crowd of people enjoying the concert, I was mesmerized by the music; and yet, the sounds were coming from the schlocky accordion! 

At the end of the concert, I gave the guys a small donation and also bought one of their CD’s.  It turns out that the musicians, Alexander Burdyug and Andrey Fesenko, are graduates of the S. Prokofiev Donetsk State Academy of Music in the Ukraine.  They spend their summers in Berlin performing on the street. The rest of the year they teach at a music college in the Ukraine.  The Berlin gig is an easy way to supplement their income.

There isn’t much demand for the classical accordion these days so they go to where there’s an audience:  the streets and the shopping arcades.  They’ve won a number of international music competitions, and street performance pays as much, if not more, than teaching in the Ukraine.  I guess teacher salaries are just as low in the Ukraine as in the USA.