In a previous episode, a guest spoke to me convincingly about ‘entry points’ to classical music. We’re fortunate in this day and age to have wonderful access to all kinds of music through streaming services, iTunes, YouTube, and more, but I’d argue that there’s very little that can make a bigger impression on a listener than a compelling live performance, and chamber music has a special magic that can uniquely engage an audience.
Lisa Casal-Galietta is artistic director of the Red Door Chamber players in New York. Social media and classical music might seem an unlikely pairing, but for Red Door, it’s all part of the job. They’re a welcoming, friendly group of talented musicians dedicated not only to making wonderful music, but to making sure as many people as possible enjoy it. To that end, they’re breaking down some of the obstacles that people might have to discovering classical concerts, and that’s why they’re the first in a series I’ll be doing on how ensembles and organizations are reaching people who might not think they’ll love classical music.
Lisa tells me about occasions when people felt comfortable enough with the atmosphere to go to a concert, or tagged along with someone else, and leave just blown away by what they’ve experienced. And that is the purpose after all, isn’t it? Don’t get me wrong: personally, I love the slight formality of the concert hall, the tradition and the surroundings that goes along with a concert performance. But I also know that it can be intimidating.
So the approach that Lisa speaks of, as well as their overall purpose and aesthetic, in some ways challenges that formality in an effort to get back to an atmosphere actually much more akin to what Haydn would have been familiar with, as Lisa says, “music of friends.” Haydn’s quartets are some of the most respected in the entire repertoire, but he wrote them largely to perform among his friends, in living rooms, not concert halls.
Most music, but especially chamber music, is meant to connect with people, and the Red Door Chamber players are doing that, not just through inspired programming and welcoming performances, but through a presence on social media. They’re on Instagram @reddoorchamberplayers and on Facebook, and they look like they’re having a blast. If I weren’t literally on the other side of the world, I’d go check them out. Have a listen to Lisa’s compelling argument for accessible music and passion for doing it well. Check out their upcoming concerts, and go to one if you can. Listen and enjoy.
The podcast is (usually) recorded with Zencastr, and this episode’s featured piece is Dvorak’s ‘American’ 12th quartet, from musopen.org.