NEW YORK—Calm sounds of classical Spanish guitar music could be heard in a subway pathway at Grand Central Station. Music in the subways is not an unfamiliar sound to New Yorkers, but who are their musicians and what are their stories?
The face behind one of the musicians in New York’s transit system is Shogo Kubo. Japanese born Kubo has been playing in New York’s subways for five years.
“It is very good, to meet different people, but I don’t make much money with it,” says Kubo.
He has been playing classical guitar since the age of 10, and learned from Mitsutoshi Tanaka, a prominent guitarist in Japan.
“I learned how to play guitar in Japan. I studied for one year in Spain on how to play the Spanish guitar,” says Kubo.
Kubo, now himself a guitar teacher, says he plays the guitar twice a week for three hours in the subways. When he started playing in the subways, he did so to make money. “In the beginning I didn’t have a license", says Kubo.
For musicians to be licensed to play in the subway’s they have to audition. A large audition takes place every year in Grand Central Station.
“It took me three times to do the audition because there are so many musicians there,” says Kubo.
The audition is organized by the Music Under New York Project. The project selects musicians allowed to play.