Back to the future

euphoniaIt seems I spend a lot of my time in physical and electronic conversations about the declining audience for classical music; especially song recitals and chamber music.  I understand where the doom and gloomers are coming from.  The figures don’t lie.  The number of people who will pay $60 to sit in a dark room for two hours listening to a middle rank act in reverent silence is unquestionably on the decline.  On the other hand there are newer forces at play.  Tonight Against the Grain Theatre open a new show, Figaro’s Wedding, that will be as far removed from the “opera house as temple of culture” idea as their ground breaking La Bohème and it’s pretty much sold out.  Today the following arrived in my in-box:



June 10 doors 7 pm, show 8 pm

1585 Dundas Street West, Toronto  (416) 588 0307

$10 @ the door. Table reservations guarantee seating.

“There is an exciting energy in the room at our Lula Lounge shows” says euphonia conductor, Simon Capet. “The musicians enjoy playing music so much, and being surrounded by an audience who are so obviously enjoying the experience is truly inspirational.”

euphonia launched their Lula Lounge residency on April 15th with a programme of Philip Glass, Shostakovich and songs from Beck’s sheet-music-only album ‘Song Reader’. Their second monthly Lula gig celebrated music of Latin American composers. For their next club date they are presenting a compelling and sparkling playlist by classical firebrands Haydn, Mozart and CPE Bach.

But are performances in clubs and bars the future of classical music? euphonia conductor, Simon Capet thinks not so much the future but a return to the past. “We’re not forcing classical music into trendy, inappropriate venues but returning it to exactly the type of venues and atmosphere that it originated in! The first public concerts were given not in austere concert halls but in pubs and taverns like the Kings Head, Greenwich; Castle Tavern, Fleet Street and Swan and Hoop Tavern, Cornhill where, in 1765, the 9-year-old Mozart performed. These pub concerts were so successful that impresarios built bigger venues like the Hanover Square Rooms where Haydn’s London symphonies where performed. At a little over 2,500 square feet the Hanover Rooms was only slightly larger than the 2,400 square-foot Lula Lounge.

Whether pub or public music room, 18th century concerts included plenty of refreshments and Haydn, Mozart and their contemporaries were not composing for the formal presentations that we have come to think of as today’s classical concerts but for lively social gatherings that included food, drink and conversation. euphonia’s Lula Lounge events are a return to a social gathering with live classical music and great food; check out Lula’s superb menu at

On June 10th euphonia will play Mozart’s Symphony no.29, Haydn’s Symphony no.6 and the d minor flute concerto by CPE Bach performed by euphonia flautist, Christopher Lee. ‘Playing and hearing this concerto is a singular treat that doesn’t come often as 18th century concerti are often neglected,” says Chris. “This incredibly virtuosic concerto can be lush, romantic, and even touching. The final movement in particular is a powerhouse of energetic playing,” he enthuses. ‘Performing at Lula Lounge means I get to communicate intimately with an audience without the barrier so often created by a stage. The audience is directly involved in the result of the music-making, their reactions determine the flow of the emotion and our shared musical journey will be a more exciting experience!’”

Join euphonia at Lula Lounge for classical music as you’ve never before experienced it!

Imagine that!  Mixing fun, food, booze and classical music.  It could catch on!


4 thoughts on “Back to the future

  1. I would be hard-pressed to find it, but I read an article a while ago about a series of concerts Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonics gave in a crowded disco in Berlin. Apparently they were quite successful.

  2. It is all pretty cool; and today we can read a review about AGT’s Figaro in another alternative space in John Terauds’s Musical Toronto….all good things, things that bring an audience in, that brings the music – and fine music, and fine performances- closer to folks, and at much lower prices than folks are used to. It is all good, right?
    One caveat: does this kind of performance lead to a living wage, and a sustainable way of life for the artists? Or are we chasing our wages down to the point where the only folks that can play art music, are those that can look forward to a life where they will always be subsidizing their art with their day job?
    I am not knocking these artist/producers; and I am sure professional association minimums are being paid….
    But minimum wages for the occasional gig does not create a sustainable livelihood…..

    Just wondering where we are going…..

    • I think that’s an entirely legit concern (being married to a dancer who doesn’t make a living wage!). I know AtG try to pay their performers decently (though I don’t know the details). Meanwhile, back to writing my own review of last night’s fun and games.

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