A few months before I had to leave Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA, I got a facebook request from one of my oboe player friends asking if I was interested in joining the Classical Revolution. After a prompt Google search, I discovered that the Classical Revolution is an actual movement, with chapters in many large cities worldwide. There is also an offshoot group, Classical Revolution PDX, with a home base in Portland, OR.
If you visit the Classical Revolution PDX site, the home page features a manifesto. “We love classical music. We love playing classical music. We love listening to classical music. We are tired of the elitist and inaccessible nature of the classical world. We believe that there are many that would enjoy classical music if they could access it in a setting that is comfortable for them. We believe classical musicians should be allowed to perform in a setting that is more casual - where the audience is allowed to have a drink, eat a scone, laugh a little, and clap a lot. We believe everyone can enjoy the music that we love.” Essentially, the Classical Revolution is comprised of classical musicians bringing (mostly) chamber music to different audiences through non-traditional venues. Cafes, bars, neighborhoods, parks; everywhere is fair game.
The success of this movement has been mentioned in the New York Times, and they mention orchestras who have gotten in on the revolution. The San Francisco Symphony holds an After Hours bar scene at Davies Symphony Hall, and I’m sure we all have seen the YouTube videos of flash orchestral mobs taking place in train stations, actual trains, and malls. Classical music is moving out of the concert halls and taking the music to new audiences, quite literally.
I love the fourth sentence of the manifesto. “We believe classical musicians should be allowed to perform in a setting that is more casual - where the audience is allowed to have a drink, eat a scone, laugh a little, and clap a lot.” I don’t think classical music should make the move to bars or cafes exclusively, but by making music and sharing it in a more casual manner, the culture of classical music begins to stop taking itself so seriously and opens up to new possibilities.