Violinist far from home surprises, entertains Cary shoppers

A lone musician turned a shopping center parking lot in Cary into his personal Carnegie Hall this week.

Giovanni Albert, a 25-year-old violinist, performed for shoppers at Harrison Pointe Shopping Center near the intersection of Harrison Avenue and Maynard Road.

If the number of bystanders strolling by was any indication, people liked what they heard.

Albert came to the United States from Romania five months ago with a wife and two young children: a 1-year-old girl and a 3-year-old boy. They settled in Jacksonville, Florida. He said he was in Cary visiting relatives.

Albert said his immigration status does not currently allow him to seek regular work, so he is doing what he knows — play his violin.

“I saw a lot of people come here and thought it would be a good place to [play],” he said.

Albert’s talent, after playing for 12 year years, was apparent. He played classical standards from memory as his head bobbed and weaved with the movement of the music. His repertoire also includes jazz and rock, he said.

Albert’s electric violin, painted metallic red, sparkled in the late afternoon sunlight. It was well-suited to his outdoor venue. His normal violin, the one he played in the Bucharest Symphony Orchestra, could not produce same volume and effect, he said.

His impromptu concert Sunday attracted the attention of people living in the neighboring apartments .

When Jen Hilton heard the music, she first thought her daughter had found a classical radio station and turned up the volume. She was pleasantly surprised to learn she was listening to a person.

“It sounded so good,” she said. “He played all day.”

Albert also played Monday. He set up in the Harris Teeter parking lot across from the entrance with the store’s permission. They gave him until 6 p.m. each day to play, he said.

Some people initially mistook Albert for a flood victim from Hurricane Florence. Others shot video of his virtuosity.

He said taking care of his family on what he earned in Bucharest — about $200 per month — was hard.

“In Romania, there is no opportunity,” Albert said. “It was not good for my family. There is no money, no possibility. I decided to come to America; maybe it is better.”

His stop in Cary wasn’t meant to be a long-term gig.

“This was my first time in Cary, and I liked it,” he said. ”But I have to go back to Florida to be with my family.”

He doesn’t know if and when he will return to Cary, but he said he was glad to have entertained those of those who heard him play.

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