Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Classical Revolution Cleveland @ Prosperity Social Club

Guerrilla -- or Organic -- Classical at its best.

To paint the setting in one word: Bar. To use slightly more words: A narrow, old-school bar in Cleveland's Tremont neighborhood. The door is flanked with "Thank You" and "Call Again" neon signs; the paneled walls--looking slightly older than the 1940-70s vintage to which I typically attribute that architectural detail--hold advertisements for karaoke, happy hour, and other such events. A lone and strangely out of place disco ball spins in the front corner. The bar itself is well-worn, with the finish giving way to bare wood at places... behind the bar is the standard assortment of alcoholic beverages. Tables are scattered throughout, and a couple pool tables fill a back corner.

Yet in the front corner is something atypical for a bar: A collection of music stands and musical instrument cases.

In fact, this is the first time I've heard classical in a bar... It seems like an odd combination in theory, and it's certainly an odd combination in practice... the din of conversations in a bar, the occasional "thwack" of a pool cue against the cue ball, clanking of glasses and plates. This certainly was not intended to be an environment for critical listening; but that wasn't the point. Nor was this precision playing: This was a let your hair down "jam session" (another first as it relates to classical, for me at least) of pretty darn good musicians... who happened to be playing "Connect 4" and enjoying adult beverages when they weren't making music.

This, on its own was impressive: For the most part, it seems, musical selections were made on the fly, the musicians playing them also arranged themselves on the fly, and there wasn't necessarily the opportunity for advance rehearsal or even coordination [there were several pauses to determine tempo, and I heard "this movement doesn't make any sense" midway through one piece.] Anyone can sound good with enough practice... but to pick up a piece of sheet music and play music that sounds reasonably good on the fly and with a "new" group is an impressive skill.

It was a touch surreal to order a vodka & Coke with a cheeseburger with Schubert being played less than 6 feet away from me, but it worked.

I heard about the event on Facebook via CIM's Twitter feed, and it was aparently sponsored by Cleveland Classical... I hope I don't miss the next one!

As for Tremont, this is the first event I've sucessfully done in Tremont; I've attempted a few events but given up in fustration before finding a place to ditch my car. Parking this evening wasn't too bad, and this non-parallel parking ex-Californian is becoming not-horrible at pulling off the feat.


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