Concert violinist earns more at busking

CLAIRE GOBIN might have expected to make a reasonable living from music.

By her early twenties the violinist was as familiar with Birmingham's Symphony Hall as with the Berlin Schauspielhaus. Her orchestral placements had included the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and the Halle in Manchester. And she played in the ensemble for the German production of Sunset Boulevard.

But 26-year-old Miss Gobin has been forced to perform at a more modest venue - a pitch on the pedestrianised zone in Chester - because she can earn more as a street busker than she can in an orchestra.

Miss Gobin says life in the orchestra was too much like working underpaid in an office. She earned up to pounds 100 a time as a freelance violinist, performing 40 times in one year with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic alone, but says street performances and weddings are more lucrative.

"You can earn more as a secretary than as a highly skilled musician," she said yesterday. "This is more fulfilling and it means I am able to bring sunshine into people's lives."

There are worse busking venues than Chester's majestic medieval Rows, it has to be said. "I love playing in the open air here," Miss Gobin said.

Pedestrians more accustomed to weary renditions of "Yesterday" and "Hey, Mr Tambourine Man" now encounter her classical repertoire, including solo Bach partitas, Vivaldi's Four Seasons, "Meditation" from Thais by Massenet, plus the odd old favourite such as "I Only Have Eyes For You".

Miss Gobin, usually to be found near Chester's Eastgate Clock, says busking has helped to secure useful wedding work.She is now seeking a co-writer to record "upbeat, fashionable music" in the style of Frank Sinatra, and has signed with an agency in London.

All apparently more enticing than the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, where if she had worked full time she would have earned up to pounds 17,000 a year.

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