Increasingly, performers, orchestras and record labels are thinking beyond the traditional concert in an attempt to get classical music heard by new audiences. From performances of Brahms in the pub to club nights that feature world-class performers and DJs side-by-side, here are five ways to get classical music heard outside the concert hall.
1. Play in a pub – The Night Shift
The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment aims for a relaxed and informal atmosphere with its late-night concert series The Night Shift, established in 2006. Concerts typically start after 8pm and take place in pubs, bars or smaller venues in London, with audiences invited to drink, slouch and show their appreciation, vocally or through applause, whenever they like during the ‘set’. At the end of last year, The Night Shift‘s pub tour took Haydn to pubs in Bristol and Brighton.
2. Put on a club night – Yellow Lounge
Eight years ago, Deutsche Grammophon established a club night in Berlin that ‘brings classical music bang up-to-date, leaving a trail of twin-sets, pearls and grey suits in its wake.’ Yellow Lounge invites world-class musicians to perform amidst DJ sets from the likes of Eva Be and Clé from Berlin and classical crossover artist Francesco Tristano. Videos and lighting from VJs like Brain Wash contribute to an edgy atmosphere.
3. Set up in an established bar – Limelight
Oxford Street’s iconic 100 Club (right) has seen appearances from Muddy Waters, The Sex Pistols and The Clash to name jsut three. And, since 2009, it has hosted ‘classical music in a rock and roll setting’. The Limelight series, set up by Emily Freeman and Milly Olykan, encourages classical performers to speak about the music they perform before staying for a drink and chat with audience members at the bar. Past performers include vocal ensemble VOCES8, pianist James Rhodes and violinist Joshua Bell.
4. Encourage active audience participation – #BRISTOLPROMS
Sporting a hashtag in the title, the Bristol Proms were launched last summer to promote accessible classical concerts. Audiences, whether seated or standing in a ‘mosh pit’ in front of the stage, are invited to react to the music as physically or verbally as they like with ‘no shushing other people’. The festival has been getting a bit of publicity lately because of last year’s crowd-surfing incident: director Tom Morris has had to admit that one audience member got a bit carried away.
5. Perform in a car park – Multi-Story
Composer Kate Whitley and conductor Chris Stark have aimed for the top with their Multi-Story project (below), which saw 100 musicians rounded up in 2011 to perform Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring in a multi-storey car park. The project has become a fixture on the summer calendar – this year the Multi-Story orchestra returns to the same Peckham car park to perform Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1 with Matthew Barley – and has expanded to tour schools and play in nightclubs.