Buskaid was founded in 1992 by British viola player Rosemary Nalden, in response to a BBC radio interview highlighting the difficulties of a group of young string players in Diepkloof, Soweto. Rosemary responded by organising a fundraising event, when 120 professional musicians ‘busked’ simultaneously in 16 British Rail stations across the UK.

In January 1997 when the original project had fallen into difficulties, Rosemary established the Buskaid Soweto String Project. Initially the fledgling music school, situated in a tiny run-down church office in Diepkloof, comprised 15 members from the original project and a handful of beginners. Since then, in response to the huge demand by local children to learn a stringed instrument, it has grown exponentially, and currently has some 115 students ranging in age from five to35, all of whom are drawn from the less privileged local community. The Buskaid Soweto Academy of String Teaching and Performance is now situated in its own purpose-built school in the grounds of another church in Diepkloof. In the 25 years of its existence, the organisation has grown from a modest social development project into an internationally recognised institution of high quality string teaching and performance.

The Buskaid Ensemble has undertaken 26 highly acclaimed international tours and is the only African classical orchestra ever to have performed at the BBC Proms (2007). The Ensemble is well-known for its knowledge of stylistic performance practice and its unique format of performing Classical, classic pop, Afro-pop and Township Kwela in one concert is a great attraction for its public concerts. Ensemble members have also created the largest collection of string arrangements of traditional township music in South Africa. Buskaid musicians are also known for their ability to memorise entire classical works and perform them with choreographed actions: a further innovative approach to classical performance. In breaking the conventional mould, Buskaid has thus introduced new audiences to classical music.

Buskaid provides young people from the Diepkloof community with unparalleled possibilities to uplift themselves from an environment of poverty and unemployment. The transformation of young people who enter the programme can sometimes be quite dramatic: many of whom come from particularly difficult home circumstances are shy and troubled but seem to recognise instinctively that this environment will enable them to change the course of their lives and their futures. These benefits also extend to their general education where, because of improved self-esteem, reading and motor skills, their confidence is boosted and they begin to show marked improvement in their school subjects and, most significantly, in their lives in general.


from 21 reviews
"The show was fantastic - but I really did not like the new venue at Wits - the parking was a shambles - we sat upstairs in the first row and could not see the whole stage and had to lean forward to see. There was a bar along the wall ! Please go back to the Linder Auditorium - it also belongs to Wits! Regards Coleen Kearney"
- Anonymous
"What an amazing experience. 10/10. I loved being transported from Europe to Brazil and then the amazing party we had in South Africa. Keep up the excellent work and I look forward to more performances "
- Phumelelo
"Another beautiful programme and outstanding performance by Buskaid. You never disappoint! It is wonderful to see the musicians go from strength to strength, and we really enjoyed the new venue!"
- Melissa
"Beautiful event at a beautiful venue"
- Anonymous
"Well done to Rosemary for a memorable performance and the 1st vilonst! "
- Anonymous

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