Cafe Classical’s Rising Popularity (Monday’s Bow August 13)

Daily Bow LogoA couple weeks ago I stumbled upon this article which caught my eye.

You don’t have to drive all the way to San Francisco or even Santa Rosa to hear live classical music.

Starting this Wednesday, Aqus will host the American Philharmonic of Sonoma County, a concert that will become a regular feature of the already impressive lineup of musical events at the community cafe.

Don’t worry. The entire 70-member plus orchestra will not be in attendance. Instead, four musicians will assemble a horn quartet and play an eclectic mix of music for Petaluma audiences starting at 7pm. Admission is free.

If this sounds at all familiar to you, it’s because we’ve looked at something very similar before.

Classical Revolution, which if you remember held their first conference here in Chicago earlier in the year, is an organization dedicated to spreading the reach of classical music outside the concert hall through alternative venues such as (*cue fanfare*) cafes and bars.

This phenomenon of classical music moving into settings typically the domain of pop, country, hip hop, and rock isn’t confined to the singular movement that is Classical Revolution. Other groups such as Opera on Tap are doing the same thing, and the story above about Aqus Cafe shows that we aren’t alone in yearning for classical music that goes beyond the traditional stage.

And recently, that revolution has been growing overseas!

A26 WMM 12/8 classical revolution FV 7′ 25″



The Classical Revolution that started six years ago in San Francisco is now reverberating in Paris. Once a month a group of American musicians perform classical music in a Paris café.

“You don’t usually hear classical music in bars. You’ll hear pop music or rock music,” says Kyle Collins. But these days, he’s trying to change that. An American musician living in France, he is the co-founder of Classical Revolution Paris, which brings together groups of musicians to play chamber music in bars and cafés.

“People can experience music that they might not have heard of or might not have had an opportunity to hear,” he says.

At a recent concert, musicians stood on a raised platform at the back of a cafe in Paris’ Belleville neighbourhood in front of a black board announcing the weekly DJ set.

And while a flute duo played Bach and a violin-viola duo played Mozart, people stood at the bar drinking a beer, or sat at the café tables, some paying attention to the music,others chatting with their friends.

“You know in real time what the audience feels, and how they’re engaged,” says Sarah Niblack, the other American behind the project.

“In this setting, there is no fourth wall. You have to communicate directly with the people who are sitting right in front of you and with you. And sometimes they’re going to talk. So as a musician the challenge is to really grab the audience’s attention.”

But what was even more impactful about Aqus Cafe was that the impetus for the classical music initiative in Sonoma County came not from the philharmonic, but from the cafe owner.

“The idea is to raise consciousness about classical music in Sonoma County,” says Aqus co-owner John Crowley, a big fan of philharmonic music. “Petaluma doesn’t have a venue for classical music so I wanted to bring that in.”

Moreover, Aqus Cafe is built upon many of the same principles of those who seek to spread the word of classical music to the masses. Just check out the mission statement from the cafe’s website:

If we are isolated, how do we connect?
If we are not connected, how do we trust?
If we do not trust, how do we open our hearts?
And if we do not open our hearts to each other,
how will our spirits thrive?

Aqus Café has been created to foster community; it is a watering hole, a gathering place, a conversation room, a wonderful example of a 3rd space. Here, our main purpose in creating social capital is to provide a space for people to meet, connect and get to know each other.

We do this because we believe that to fix the fabric of society we have to first start by meeting, connecting and getting to know and understand each other.

This  is a fantastic example of a social entrepreneur with a passion for classical music, a passion that resonates strongly with musicians across the globe. We’ll be looking at this new series with great interest!

Update from the BBC Proms

With the Olympics having come to a close over the weekend, this article on the Proms (to which the Olympics was aptly dubbed as its more popular “mistress”) was nicely-timed.

Read the full article: “Music Festival Excites in Shadow of the Olympics

Also from the Proms:


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