What’s better than a video of one exceptionally talented young busker? A video of two exceptionally talented young buskers! In this wonderful video, Swedish singer and multi-instrumentalist Oscar Stembridge perform a beautiful rendition of John Lennon’s Imagine with Ukrainian violinist Karolina Protsenko.
The video was filmed on the 3rd Street Promenade, a famous pedestrian mall in Santa Monica, filled with shops, eateries and an entertainment complex. It seems unlikely anything going on in the complex could have been as amazing as what was happening outside.
Their duet is beautiful. Oscar is a very accomplished guitarist and Karolina reaches prodigy levels on her violin. The melding of the two instruments adds a poignant, haunting feel to an already emotional song. However, Oscar has more going on than his playing. He is also a fabulous singer, despite only being fourteen at the time. The internet is a wonderful tool because it allows us to see performances like this that we never could have before.
It’s a double-edged sword, though, as it also exposes young children to information and events they may well have been unaware of before. In recent years there has been wall-to-wall coverage of covid, the war in Ukraine, school shootings in America and the catastrophic earthquake in Syria and Turkey. That’s without even touching on climate change. Perhaps that’s how Oscar injects so much maturity into his singing.
You wouldn’t expect him to be able to understand and capture the full weight of the song’s lyrics, but he does and it brings a tear to your eye.
The crowd there that were clearly adoring the performance. Every hand held a camera phone and there were broad grins all around. When they reach the end, Oscar and Karolina share a celebratory high-five while cheers erupt from the audience. YouTube loves it too, the video has been watched 2.3 million times in just seven months. One commenter explained perfectly why it was so wonderful:
“You both did justice to this legendary song by John Lennon. I’ve been watching the Beatles on tv since 1964 their first Ed Sullivan show and debut on American TV. I also loved John Lennon’s solo music. Oscar Stembridge you have a very unique and beautiful way of singing the song with amazing feeling and it even moved me to tears of joy. Congratulations.”
I think there’s lots more to come from this talented pair, but who are they? Oscar Stembridge was interested in music from a young age. He can play the guitar, drums, piano and ukulele. He began uploading performances when was twelve, mostly on YouTube and Instagram. His YouTube channel only has 38,000 subscribers, but his most popular videos have over 500,000 views. He has already released two singles and an EP called Thir13en. He sings about subjects that mean a lot to him like bullying, social alienation and climate change.
Karolina Protsenko will turn fifteen this year and is from the war-torn country of Ukraine. She began to learn the violin when she was six, the same year she and her family moved to America. She began busking in Santa Monica in 2017 when she was only eleven. She also began Instagram and YouTube channels and has more than 7 million subscribers.
Let’s wish these talented kids all the success in the world, they deserve it. If you would like to see more from Oscar Stembridge, you can subscribe to his YouTube channel or follow him on Instagram.