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Orchestra spokesman Alan Thomson
"It has boosted our morale a bit and enabled us to continue"
 real 28k

Saturday, 27 November, 1999, 06:03 GMT
Busking days over for Russian maestros
The orchestra outside McDonald's in Swansea The orchestra was busking for burgers

The top Russian orchestra reduced to busking to buy food on its first UK tour has been saved from further indignity by generous musc lovers.

After poor ticket sales, members of the National Philharmonic Orchestra of Russia ended up entertaining Christmas shoppers in Swansea, south Wales, to raise money for food and shelter.

But now a number of donors have come forward offering to meet food, hotel and travel bills.

The National Philharmonic Orchestra of Russia is one of the oldest of its kind in the world.

Founded in 1879, the orchestra has played to packed houses in some of the world's biggest concert halls.


We knew we would be on a tight budget from the start but no one imagined it would get this desperate
Conductor Boguslaw Dawidow
But ticket sales at a number of venues were poor culminating in a disasterous turnout for a concert in Swansea's Brangwyn Hall on Thursday.

So short of funds were the musicians that they had to sleep 10 to a room in a youth hostel and survive on a diet of bread and cheese.

Following a heated argument between the conductor, Boguslaw Dawidow, and orchestra members, the musicians decided to take matters into their own hands - it was time to busk.

To break even the orchestra need to sell 400 tickets per concert, but they only sold 100 on Thursday.

'Desperate'

Mr Dawidow said: "We knew we would be on a tight budget from the start of the tour but no one ever imagined things would get this desperate.

"We had the choice of either getting back on our coaches and going home to Russia or trying to raise some money by playing on the street."

Their plight caught the attention of shoppers in Swansea and music lovers further afield. Donations were forthcoming and ticket sales for the concert doubled.

The hope now is that when the orchestra returns to the city on 1 December, it will be playing to a full house.

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