Daily Bow: Parnassus Joins the Revolution

Daily Bow LogoThroughout 2012, we’ve several times taken a look at the movement known as Classical Revolution. It seems that this revolution has sparked a fire in the hearts of many others… and one project is moving forward with this revolution in a big way!

The Parnassus Project was formed earlier this year, a sponsored project of the non-profit Fractured Atlas. Parnassus gives young musicians a chance to perform and provide nontraditional audiences with a chance to enjoy chamber music. Venues include coffee shops and libraries among other locales. It embodies the revolution in spirit with its mission to bring classical chamber music to alternative settings from the mainstream concert hall.

Their mission statement is “Connecting Chamber Music & Community.”

Mount Parnassus is known in Greek mythology as the home of the muses, where all art forms come together.

Inspired by this idea, local classical musicians Ruth Mar and Brooks Tran wanted to find a way for music and community to converge. The result is the Parnassus Project, an ensemble that marries chamber music with cafe culture.

“People think chamber music is highbrow, but it should be accessible to the average person,” said Mar, the ensemble’s director, of the musical style that is written for small instrumental ensembles. It’s typically performed in smaller auditoriums and without a conductor.

The Parnassus Project has traded the music hall for small, informal venues where the performance is part concert, part social gathering — with clinking glasses, roaring espresso machines and other distractions.

Since its inaugural concert in the spring, the Parnassus Project has been spotted playing at coffee shops, a tavern, a bookstore, a library and a farmer’s market.

The words echo the powerful statement Classical Revolution made in San Francisco back in 2006. Indeed, founder Ruth Mar even invokes the name in discussing her thoughts on others engaged in similar music-for-the-masses efforts to build a community around classical music.

One group that does it right is Classical Revolution, Mar said. It’s a movement with chapters around the country whose performances are best described as “classical jam sessions.”

“As the music culture changes, people create new audiences for themselves,” she said.

For example, the Parnassus Project recently played at the Blue Moon tavern in the University District with Opera on Tap, which brings classical opera performances to bars, aiming for a wider audience while still managing to attract McCaw Hall regulars.

Mar said the musicians hope Parnassus Project is here to stay.

“As long as the people involved are having fun, that means we are doing the right thing,” she said.

The Parnassus Project is based in the Greater Seattle area and named both after the reference to Greek mythology and after a cafe where many of the founding members got their daily caffeine while studying at the University of Washington. Blending the concert and social elements, Parnassus’ goals include:

  • Featuring emerging local professionals playing music they love
  • Providing audiences with a fresh take on the classical concert experience
  • Creating community-building experiences through partnerships with local businesses and collaborations across musical/artistic genres.

Read the full article – Parnassus Project brings chamber music to the coffee-shop set

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