Police close down family string quartet playing classical music for their neighbours claiming they are breaking coronavirus lockdown rules
- Rafael Todes, 53, has been performing with his family outside his property in Bayswater, London, for six weeks
- This week police officers arrived to his street and said the music may encourage residents to gather on road
- The musical family had been playing Shostakovich’s String Quartet No4 in the front garden when stopped
- Piece was written by Shostakovich during the time he was scared that he would be arrested by Stalin’s men
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
An impromptu classical orchestra was shut down after police feared it would cause quarantined neighbours to flout lockdown measures amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Violinist Rafael Todes, 53, a member of the Allegri String Quartet, his wife Helena Newman, and children Isabella and Max, who have been entertaining residents with their music for six weeks, had been performing Shostakovich’s String Quartet No4 when police arrived to their property in Bayswater, west London.
The family, who had been performing their ensemble from their front garden, were told by the two officers that their music may encourage residents to gather on the street.
Footage filmed by the family showed one of the officers apologetically tell them: ‘I don’t enjoy this part of the job but it’s going to cause the street to keep gathering. I’m not here to fine you don’t worry but the whole street can’t be doing this.
Violinist Rafael Todes (left), 53, his wife Helena Newman (third from left), and children Isabella (second from left) and Max (right), from west London, who have been playing their music for their neighbours for six weeks, had been performing Shostakovich’s String Quartet No4
The family, who had playing the classical piece from their front garden, were asked by the police officers to stop performing
‘I hear what you’re doing, it’s good music but obviously it’s going to keep causing the street to block. I do apologise, it’s very good.’
A message on the musician’s Facebook page later read: ‘The final pop-up Alexander Street Quartet Concert. Shostakovich’s 4th Quartet closed down by the Police -tactfully!’
Mr Todes, who is a teacher at the Royal Academy of Music and whose wife plays the viola, said that the family first began their street performances after a resident requested a performance for another neighbour’s birthday.
The talented instrumentalists have since been sharing their small concerts on Facebook with Mr Todes’ daughter Isabella, 17, playing the violin and his son Max playing the cello.
The violinist told The Daily Telegraph: ‘About five weeks ago a neighbour asked us during lockdown whether we could do a little concert for the lady who lived upstairs.
‘So we did that and people in the street watched and somebody said ”you’ve got to do this again next week”.’
The musician, who will now put his public concerts on hold, added that there was a certain irony that the very piece of music the family had been playing had been written by Shostakovich when he was terrified of being arrested by Joseph Stalin’s regime.
Mr Todes, who is a teacher at the Royal Academy of Music, later shared the footage of his family playing the piece on Facebook
The officers who had been patrolling the west London street told the family that their ensemble might cause more residents to flout the lockdown measures
Residents on the street in Bayswater, London, had been listening to the small family concert before it was put to a stop
He added: ‘Just before we played, I gave a little speech about Shostakovich and how he was out of favour when he wrote this and he was terrified that he was going to be arrested by Stalin’s people.’
Simon Messinger, who is Silver Commander for the Met’s Covid-19 policing operation, said: ‘This video illustrates how we encourage our officers to engage in what can sometimes be challenging circumstances.
‘The officer can clearly be heard explaining in a polite and informative manner his rationale for asking the performance to stop.
‘No matter how positive the sentiment, if groups of people start to gather in public places then it is our officers’ duty to encourage people to move on for the safety of everyone.
‘On this occasion, those involved were happy to act on our officers advice and we’re grateful for the continued co-operation of all Londoners during this unique time.’
The scene comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson prepares to warn Britons that relaxing the social distancing measures could lead to a second wave of the virus.
Police feared the musical performance from the family’s front garden would encourage neighbours to break the lockdown
Mr Johnson is expected to set out his latest plans on social restrictions and will also express his concerns with easing the lockdown too soon this evening when he leads the daily Downing Street press conference.
Recent death toll figures show that the virus has now claimed the lives of more than 26,000 people in the UK.
Mr Todes and his family are currently fundraising for St John’s Hospice on their JustGiving page.