Classical Revolution started in 2006 at the Revolution Café in San Francisco when several musicians in need of a performance space met there to perform chamber music. The idea was for musicians to just show up and play. There was no set program. If they had the musicians and music for a string quartet, they played quartets. If a clarinetist or flutist came, then they played a piece incorporating that instrument. It was very informal. The idea caught on and soon musicians from other cities started their own chapters. The musicians appreciate the opportunity to play together, but it is equally important for them to bring classical music to new audiences in a very accessible way.
There are now 25 chapters in the United States and three in Europe. Most of the musicians who take part are freelancers, but musicians who are members of orchestras also join in. When The Cleveland Orchestra was snowed in last winter in Ann Arbor, several of the musicians joined in a Classical Revolution jam session at Silvio’s Organic Pizza. Every chapter is different and reflects the personalities of its musicians.
On August 4, Chloe Veltman reported on the San Francisco incarnation of Classical Revolution in The New York Times, writing, “The exponential growth of Classical Revolution and other innovative chamber music entities, like the San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music and Opera on Tap, point to a broader trend in classical music—with its traditionally lofty image and high ticket prices—of making it more approachable. Even orchestras are adopting Classical Revolution-style tactics. The San Francisco Symphony’s ‘Davies After Hours’ program features orchestral musicians playing edgy repertory in the second-tier lobby at Davies Symphony Hall, transforming it into a nightclub-like setting with a cash bar, trendy furniture and a display of local artworks. The Napa Valley Symphony is collaborating with Classical Revolution to produce events in schools and wine bars.”
The New York City chapter in this video performs in venues throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn. This fall they are planning a fundraiser to allow them to increase the number and types of performances and also to reimburse the musicians for their expenses.