TfL Elizabeth line: Call for buskers to entertain travellers as scheme celebrates 20 years

TfL is reopening auditions for buskers for the first time since before the pandemic and is introducing pitches to the Elizabeth line.
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Transport for London (TfL) is searching for fresh new talent to audition for a busking spot on the Elizabeth line.

TfL’s busking scheme, which launched 20 years ago, has seen the likes of Ed Sheeran start their careers entertaining passengers on the Underground.

The transport body is reopening auditions for buskers for the first time since before the pandemic and is introducing pitches to the Elizabeth line.

A “competitive audition” will be held to determine who gets to join the 200 buskers who have been licensed since 2003.

TfL says musicians of all genres are invited to apply to reflect London’s cultural diversity. Shortlisted musicians will perform to a panel of musical experts and TfL operational staff in a busy station environment and judged on technical ability and audience response.

Auditions, which were last held in 2017, will take place early next year. Applications close on December 22.

The auditions will be coordinated by Found in Music, which runs Busk in London, a programme supported by mayor Sadiq Khan.

Fabio Tedde, the “Pianist Without Borders,” has been busking on the Underground for 20 years. Fabio Tedde, the “Pianist Without Borders,” has been busking on the Underground for 20 years.
Fabio Tedde, the “Pianist Without Borders,” has been busking on the Underground for 20 years.

Justine Simons OBE, deputy mayor for culture and the creative industries, said: “I am delighted at the return of TfL’s busking auditions and the introduction of pitches to the Elizabeth line. Busking is a thriving artform across our city and has brought TfL’s stations alive over the last 20 years.

“This competition provides musicians with a fantastic opportunity to show off their talents, as we build a better London for everyone.”

Two new pitches have opened at Bond Street Elizabeth line station, at its entrances in Davies Street and Hanover Square.

TfL is looking at opening other busking spots at the line’s other central London stations.

Tamara Stein is a soprano who performs soaring arias for people travelling on the Tube.Tamara Stein is a soprano who performs soaring arias for people travelling on the Tube.
Tamara Stein is a soprano who performs soaring arias for people travelling on the Tube.

To mark the 20 year anniversary of busking on the London Underground, portraits of buskers will appear in stations later this year.

These include Tamara Stein, a soprano who performs soaring arias for people travelling on the Tube. She has ME and fibromyalgia, but says busking has given her a “new lease of life”.

The Treblemakers have been busking on the Underground for 20 years, and were one of the first groups to join. They are an a cappella vocal ensemble who donate all their profits to charity.

“We wish more people knew that buskers are talented musicians with great grit and determination, who love their craft and love communicating their passion for music to others,” the group said in a statement.

“We sometimes sing Ukrainian songs, and we’ve had a few people stop and cry while we sing. It’s very moving.”

Other buskers to feature in the portraits include Fabio Tedde, the “Pianist Without Borders”, and pensioner Lee Huxley, who performs his own songs as a singer and guitarist.

Kate Jones, Found in Music’s programme director, said: “Found in Music is delighted to be working with TfL on the audition process for the iconic London Underground Busking Scheme. London is world renowned for music with a multitude of venues to visit and performers to appreciate.

“Busking has a key role to play in the music ecosystem and provides artists with a free, public stage to hone their skills whether on the street, at one of Busk in London’s high-profile locations or on the Underground. We are really looking forward to discovering new talent during the audition process.”