An orchestra that's rethinking the classical music experience in it's entirety, with a good time in mind.
We want to change classical music - or at least the way it's performed.
Classical music is in a bad way. Audiences are shrinking and aging. Orchestras are declaring bankruptcy. And in the age of iTunes, marketability is supplanting artistry, as each month recordings claim an ever greater share of the market. The most popular venue for art music in America is the car.
We staunchly believe that music is not the problem – rather, that audiences have lost interest in the experience: asocial seating, distant stages, disconnected performers and patrons, a stiff atmosphere. Dissatisfied with the fashion and spaces in which most classical music is presented, we want to experiment with new ideas.
The aim is to create a venue both more effective and more accessible – more fun – than those tried. Comfortable enough to relax into; intimate enough for the music take precedence; sparse enough for movement and flow; dense enough for strangers to meet. There are three pillars to realizing this:
1. Performing in stageless spaces, making the music more effective and breaking down the barrier between performers and audience
2. Personalizing the room with design ideas taken from the restaurants and cafés people feel most comfortable in
3. Programming in sets, to create both ‘art-time’ and ‘social-time’ in better balance
A friend labeled this effort ‘curating’: finding a new setting for old art. This brought us to the idea of performing in a gallery: an open, comfortable stageless space. If our fundraising is successful, we'll launch on September 22 at the renowned Sundaram Tagore Gallery in Chelsea. We'll post updates like program and partnerships as the summer goes on.
The money we raise goes to covering the costs of furniture and refreshments, musicians' wages, and logistical costs.
I'll say at the outset that it's evolving, and probably will continue to do so throughout the summer (if not the fall). Right now, though, the concept we're working with is a 17 piece orchestra (2 violins, violas, cellos, 1 bass, flute, clarinet, oboe, bassoon, trumpet, horn, guitar, percussionist). We're starting to arrange a fair bit of classical orchestral repertoire for this ensemble: mostly rep from late 19C - early 20C. Debussy, Ravel, Stravinsky, Prokofiev etc.
For the launch event: no. That may change afterwards, however.
Our scheme for programming is this: 20-30 minutes of music, every hour on the hour. Stretch the 'concert' out over enough hours that people are welcome to come whenever (and leave whenever, too). Also, to scale down from large scale works (tone poems, ballets, symphonies) to chamber works (quartets, jazz works) to solo works over the course of an evening - the music getting more intimate as the night goes on. A typical program might look like this:
7 Stravinsky - Song of the Nightingale
8 Prokofiev - Violin Concerto no. 1
9 Copland - Appalachian Spring
10 Beethoven - Quartet no. 14 in c# minor
11 Billy Bang - Reflections
12 Albeniz etc. - Works for solo guitar
The thinking behind this is that it gives people time and space to talk and relax, the way they'd want to at a restaurant or a cafe. (It makes for a better date). Also, if we decided to go 'late night', with a dj or something following our last set, it would make for a smoother transition.