Hunt on for musicians to join London's biggest gigs competition

14 March 2012

You're a star! Young buskers launch London's biggest ever street music competition.....under the English Channel

Rob da Bank joins musicians at St Pancras International as call goes out for talented groups and soloists aged 11-25 to take part in Gigs – Big Busk

Young London musicians are being given a unique opportunity to play live, not just in two countries on the same day, but also under the English Channel. The musical journey is to launch plans for Gigs – Big Busk (, which is being organised by the Mayor of London this summer and is set to turn the capital's streets into a stage for hundreds of talented young Londoners.

Kensington based The Robbie Boyd Band and Ze Trio, who hail from Kingston, are playing special sets on the platform at St Pancras International, London, this morning, before boarding a Eurostar train bound for Paris. During the journey, the musicians will busk to passengers, giving new meaning to on board entertainment. After they arrive in Paris, they will head to some iconic locations around the French capital, where they will set up to busk to locals and tourists.

The musical excursion is being organised by the Mayor of London Boris Johnson in conjunction with Eurostar as a preview for Gigs – Big Busk, the capital's biggest ever street music competition, which will see talented groups and soloists aged 11-25 play to thousands of people across the city - from borough high streets to Olympic sites. Gigs will give young musicians the chance to be part of BT London Live – high profile festival events commissioned by the Mayor in partnership with The Royal Parks and the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and organised by Live Nation (

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: 'This will be a magical music tour, which redefines the term entente cordiale. London has a global reputation as a city of great music, from classical concerts to the biggest rock stars on the planet playing at some of the most successful music venues in the world, contributing massively to our economy, as well as our city's cultural life. With the Rolling Stones, the Clash, Adele and countless others, our city has always been a hotbed of creative talent and new musicians are emerging all the time, so it's vital they have the opportunity to play live.

'We set up Rhythm of London to give talented young musicians the chance to play - that was on the Underground, but with Gigs we're taking it underwater and then bringing it overground, offering many more opportunities to play and adding to the excitement of a summer like no other.'

The Robbie Boyd Band and Ze Trio were selected to play today's cross-Channel music event following their success at last year's Rhythm of London Busking Underground competition. Organised by the Mayor of London in conjunction with Transport for London, they beat off over 100 other young musicians to triumph at the finals staged during Wayne Hemingway's Vintage Festival at the Southbank Centre.

Mary Walsh, Director of Communications for Eurostar said: 'We have a long history of supporting musical and cultural exchanges from ballet to busking, so we’re really excited to support this unique event. London and Paris are two of the most cultural cities in the world and with high-speed rail, the opportunity to share cultural experiences between the two capitals has never been greater. We can’t wait to welcome these up and coming bands on-board and our customers are in for a real treat as well as a surprise.'

Musician Robbie Boyd said: 'We are thrilled to be going to Paris with Eurostar and getting the chance to bring our London sounds to the streets of Paris!'

Stephen Richardson, guitarist with Ze Trio said: 'Ze Trio est très excite!! It’s an amazing opportunity to take our eclectic, folk-ified brand of music to the streets of Paris! Particularly as our ensemble has such a European flavour, we think we’ll feel right at home; we’re sure it’s a style the people of France will really get into (not to mention our talented accordionist)! We owe a massive thanks to both Eurostar and the Mayor of London for making this happen! C’est Fantastique!!'

Rob da Bank, the man behind Bestival and Sunday Best, is joining the musicians at St Pancras. Rob commented: 'Music is an important part of my life and of city life and it's important to champion new music coming through. This is a great way for young musicians to get heard by loads of people and will add to the vibe in London this coming crazy summer.'

The Mayor is now calling on young musicians to take part in Gigs – Big Busk.

The competition is open to musical Londoners between the ages of 11 and 25, whatever your musical style from classical to country and beatbox to ballads. Soloists, duos and groups of up to 20 members are all welcome, and you can play any instruments you like as long as they are portable and can use a dry battery amp if you need one.

Performers should apply as soon as possible, or by 1 June at the latest. Those shortlisted will play at Gigs busking pitches in some of London's most iconic spaces and need to be available to perform between 21 July and 25 August 2012. All shortlisted acts will also have one of their live busking gigs filmed, uploaded to the website and put to the public vote. Along with a panel of experts, this public vote will help decide which performers will be in the live Gigs Grand Final in September.

Prizes include: a sought-after licence to busk on London Underground, courtesy of Transport for London and their busking scheme, for the winner of the Soloists and Duos category; studio time to record an EP; music equipment and instruments; performance training; opportunities to play at great London venues; industry information, advice and support from professional musical bodies. Supporters include Roland, British Music Experience, Institute of Contemporary Music Performance, Musicians' Union and TfL.

More details can be found at

Event: Gigs – Big Busk launch

Date: Wednesday 14 March 2012

Location: St Pancras International – Eurostar – Paris sites

Musicians: Ze Trio - Salim Palekar (electro and acoustic violin); James Farrimond (accordion); Stephen Richardson (guitar). Robbie Boyd - Robbie Boyd (guitar); Adam Fletcher (bongo plus handheld percussion) Simon Fitzpatrick (bass).



  • We're looking for London's best young musicians to enter London's biggest ever street music competition and you could be playing to thousands at prestigious sites across the capital.
  • There are loads of cool music prizes up for grabs – apart from the high profile opportunities to perform in iconic London spaces, of course – including a London Underground busking licence, plus lots of music equipment, training and support.
  • Register your details and either upload a video of your act or request a live audition, to be in with a chance of winning. If you're aged 11-25 and an amazing soloist, duo or group of up to 20 members, we'd love you to try and win your place in the Gigs line-up.
  • Send us a link to your online performance. If you haven't already got something online, just get someone to record your performance with as good a quality camera as you can get hold of, and upload it to a video-sharing website like YouTube.
  • If you can't film yourself then you can apply for a live audition instead. You can do this in the registration form, and then we'll send you a date and location details nearer the time
  • Fill in the registration form to enter – if you are submitting a video audition, make sure you have your audition URL to hand.
  • If you've requested a live audition, it will take place at a London venue during May, so please make sure you're available.
  • If you've successfully made it onto the shortlist, we'll contact you to let you know.
  • All shortlisted musicians' will be playing a number of live gigs across our Gigs circuit in July and August, and will have one performance filmed between 21st July and 4th August, so please make yourselves available throughout this period.
  • All shortlisted musicians' films will be uploaded to our YouTube site to be voted on by the public.
  • People will have the chance to vote on your filmed performance and get you through to the final – so this is where you need to involve your friends!
  • The list of talented finalists will be made public in September.
  • The Grand Final will be a live play off to find the act who is to be crowned Gigs Champion 2012.

More details can be found at


Notes to editors

  1. The Mayor of London is hosting a huge programme of free events and celebrations to add to the excitement of 2012, including ones especially commissioned for a citywide programme of free events that will add to and complement the London 2012 Festival. They include Secrets Hidden London, with artists and performers transforming hidden and lesser known locations; Showtime, an outdoor arts festival in high streets, parks and open spaces around the capital; and BT London Live, bringing live action from the Games, as well as sporting activities and entertainment to Hyde Park, Victoria Park and Trafalgar Square. News and information about the programme will appear on the website This will also feature events and happenings in the build up to a summer like no other, including the St George's Day and St Patrick's Day celebrations and the Russian Maslenitsa festival. To be the first to know what's happening, sign up or follow us at / /
  2. The Gigs busking competition follows on from Rhythm of London Busking Underground, which the Mayor of London has organised since 2009 in partnership with Transport for London, and has introduced great musicians and performers such as Jamie West and The Lorelles to a wider audience.
  3. Rhythm of London was developed as part of the Mayor's Music Education Strategy, which aims to increase access to music education and participation across the capital. More than 70 musicians and singers aged between 16 and 25 took part in the 2011 competition. The overall winner was the Robbie Boyd Band from Kensington, the other prizewinners being Ze Trio from Kingston Declan Zapala from Hammersmith and Tom Hyatt from Camden. More information can be found at More information about the Mayor's Music Education Strategy 'Making Music Matter' can be found at
  4. Since it began, the London Underground licensed busking scheme has been a huge success with passengers enjoying thousands of hours of live music every year by talented professional buskers who have to pass an audition. The licensed busking programme currently includes 35 busking pitches, which are like mini-stages for musicians, in 25 different stations. For more information please go to For more information about TfL's licensed busking programme contact Candice Jones – 020 7126 4883 / [email protected].
  5. As part of this strategy the Mayor recently launched the Mayor of London's Fund for Young Musicians (MFYM). The charity gives scholarships to talented children who can't afford the cost of lessons. The first 100 scholars were given their awards in a special event at City Hall in January and a second round will be made in September. The Fund will also give tens of thousands of children from across London the chance to learn and perform with top professional musicians. Launched in May 2011, MFYM has raised over £1.2million from businesses and philanthropy. More information can be found at


MEDIA ENQUIRIES: Press information is available from Ben McKnight on 020 7983 4071; email [email protected] (press only - not for publication)

PUBLIC/NON-MEDIA ENQUIRIES: Call the Public Liaison Unit at the Greater London Authority on 020 7983 4100

DUTY PRESS OFFICER: For out-of-hours media enquiries, please call 020 7983 4000