Streetpiano Tour of Europe 2012
This year was a tour of different proportions from before as we travelled through far more countries than ever. We covered around 5000 miles and played 20 cities in 14 countries, seven of them new territory for my little piano. We played Scandinavia, the Baltic countries, Alpine regions and Slavic areas. At one point we were in a different country every day, and as they had different currencies, struggled to keep up with the value of those whilst experiencing the all the different beautiful languages of those countries. We sometimes got confused when driving through big cities trying to find a place to play piano and park the van. And it was my own tough luck to be in the driving seat for a real horror trip, 100 kilometres of road works on a motorway that's being built between Warsaw and Wroclaw on a very hot day with 36° Celsius. Did I mention that there is no air conditioning in piano transport vehicles? So this was altogether a hot tour journey with people sticking to seats and windows wide open in a bid for air.
When it came to open air piano playing we were very lucky as the weather mostly changed for the better the day before we arrived and for the worse the minute we left. Sometimes it happened before we had left, of course, and in Stockholm we got caught in a rain storm which completely soaked us all. This inspired a policeman to the comment: Why are you carrying a piano around in the rain? Good question.
I had wonderful tour helpers with me, more friends than ever took holidays to come along on this trip. They thought it was gonna be fun and sun and beach, but instead it was piano loading and van parking and looming rain, and officials lurking round the corner wanting to chase us away, so I had to get out many a bottle of beer and wine to make up for the days being just a little bit less relaxed than on your usual holiday : )
What else happened? We ended up late in Fredrikstad because of vital van repairs, met the Royal Guards in Oslo (well, were in the way off their parade would be the better description), had some rain problems in Stockholm and met some quirky child buskers in Riga who acted like little business people going about their busking trade. We saw the football in Wroclaw, with my sad tour helpers who were not happy about the German non-achievements, and then played a whole afternoon there with no permission and no-one bothering us. Not so in Switzerland where busking laws have been tightened and police interfered with my open-air concert in Schaffhausen. On the other hand I had already played for an hour, so no complaints really. We met Heinz in Vaduz, surely the smallest place I have ever played in, its just a few houses and a castle above. Heinz employed me for a posh bank event though, and this was so much fun that we stayed another day. Rosenheim, my home town, was a brilliant town to play in and had lots of press interest, so much so that two guys from the local paper unloaded my piano. This is not how it happened actually, they just happened to walk past and spontaneously got called up for piano loading services. Budapest was the most amazing place to play and even just walk about in, and we had great nights ot there. My piano was also heard on the radio in this city, and we had a day off exploring the wonderful old baths of Budapest. And another onderful stop was the Wachau, an Austrian wine region which was great for driving along the Danube, playing the little lovely town of Krems and drinking their beautiful wines.
The piano is now still playing in Scotland, until the end of the Festival in Edinburgh and then on another small tour to Aberdeenshire and Fife. Let the sun shine on all Scottish buskers and the rain spit, drizzle and pour down elsewhere.
Oslo, Norway, 22 June 2012
Constance, Germany, 9 July 2012
St Gallen, Switzerland, 10 July 2012
Budapest, Hungary, 24 July 2012
Krems, Austria, 27 July 2012
Mainz, Germany, 3 August 2012
Edinburgh Festival, Scotland, 11 August 2012
Photographs by Roni Horn, Manuela Zueckert, Dave Oulton, Joffy Himmler and Sophie O'Riordan-Holzmann
Many thanks to the photographers and tour helpers, and to everyone who helped loading and unloading my little piano : )