Taking lessons learned from the past couple of decades in programming live, “serious” music, today’s Classical concerts don’t look or sound like you might expect. At one point or another throughout the years, we’ve questioned whether formal printed programs were necessary (sometimes “yes”, sometimes “just different”), we’ve sought out younger audience members and encouraged them to dress casually, we’ve spiffed it up and served up fine meal courses paired with individual composers, and we’ve become more inclusive in our programming with a broader range of musical styles represented. For better, or worse, today’s audiences now show up with fewer expectations when it comes to programming, attire, and decorum.
Rather than debate the pros and cons of the contemporary Classical stage, I’d simply like to offer this little recap of my recent chamber music series PARKSIDE SESSIONS (all original works, self-produced in my own utterly unique way) as one example of the “new Classical” listening experience: wine flowed freely, paired to the music, paired to the art displayed. Broad sheets of paper in every hand that resembled road maps more than concert programs. Music that drew inspiration from Coltrane one moment and Stravinsky the next bouncing cheerily around the luxe lounge space, while low conversations occasionally accompanied the performers, applause was spontaneous and sometimes between movements… and no one cared.