If you’ve walked through the centre of Nyon on a Wednesday or Saturday morning, you could well have seen and heard a harpist standing in front of Manor entertaining the passers by. If so, then you will have heard the beautiful Paraguayan music of David Franco Llamosas.
David comes over to Switzerland for three months each year and plays in Lausanne, Solothurn, Lausanne, Geneva, Morges, Nyon and other Swiss cities. For the other nine months he helps his on his father’s hacienda by selling fruit and teaching harp at the Conservatoire of Asunción, but it’s his Swiss summer work that really helps supplement his income.
David came to Nyon by default three years ago one summer, en route to somewhere else. On a whim he got off the train to take a look at the town, he started playing and discovered that the people of Nyon liked and appreciated his music which is why he returns. But he says:
“I try never to outstay my welcome, I only play two mornings a week here, I am careful in alternating the cities that I visit so people don’t tire of the music”.
David is married and his wife Raquel de Franco travels with him and she too, plays the harp. If they are playing in the same city, they never play in the same spot and in certain towns they even have allocated times when they can play.
“In Lausanne there are quite a few street musicians so we register our names on a list to play so everyone can get a fair share.”
David has relatives who moved to Geneva and Morges over 26 years ago so he and Raquel always have accommodation for when they are here. When I asked him if the cost of the flight from Paraguay doesn’t wipe out any money he earns he says:
“It is still worth our while to come here, but then we do play every day of the week apart from Wednesday and Saturday afternoon when we give ourselves (and our hands!) a bit of a break. We have seen some lovely parts of Switzerland doing this job and on a summer’s day it’s good to be out and entertaining the public. But it it’s hard work, as some mornings we start at 07:00 to earn money and of course it’s tough when it’s raining and the weather isn’t good”.
At some stage David and his wife would like to stop their itinerant lifestyle and stay permanently in their own country, to settle and raise a family of their own, but says:
“Until our economic situation improves, this is what we do”. I wondered about the logistics and cost of bringing the harps over to Switzerland so asked if he had to pay a heavy luggage charge on the plane when he flies over each year.
“No, the harps stay at my aunts here in Switzerland, we have others back in Paraguay. My two brothers also play, so there are always instruments available in our family”. When I asked him why he plays near Manor and not nearer the castle (where there are possibly more tourists), he said: “It’s the people of Nyon who are the most generous, not always the tourists”.
David and his wife return to Paraguay on the 1st October so there are a few weeks more for you to catch his music if you are out and about in Nyon on a Weds or Saturday morning.
If you think South American harp music might provide the right atmosphere for any social event you may be organising then David and Raquel do play at private events. David can be contacted on 078 842 43 39 or email firstname.lastname@example.org