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Tuesday, 27 August 2013 13:29

Star chamber

Core group members, L-R: Jennifer Garteley, Dana Hotle, Adrianne Honnold, and Laura Reycraft Core group members, L-R: Jennifer Garteley, Dana Hotle, Adrianne Honnold, and Laura Reycraft
Written by Chuck Lavazzi
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For some years now the classical music world has been all abuzz with news of ensembles reaching out beyond the usual performance venues and taking the classics places where they've never been before.

The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra's "Liquid Music" series, for example, includes performances in downtown bars and partnerships with pop and rock ensembles, while New York City's Le Poisson Rouge has become a popular spot for just about every possible type of music from hip-hop to the classics. Locally The Chamber Project St. Louis is leading the non-traditional charge.

The organization's 2013-2014 series, tickets for which are now on sale, includes a themed group of concerts at The Chapel, a non-profit venue that offers its space for free, allowing performers to hold on to more of the money from ticket sales. Organized around the concept of using music to tell a story, the season opens on September 6 with "Dance" and continues with "Connect" on October 12, "Dream" on November 16, "Weave" on January 17, and "Evolution" on April 25. It concludes on May 23 with "Choice, " featuring performances of favorite works as voted on by TCP's audience. Repertoire for the concerts is varied, ranging from established masters like Dvorak, Bruch, Respighi, and Ravel to contemporary composers such as Steve Reich. Performers include local musicians as well as guest artists.

But they don't stop there. The season includes the "On Tap Series" of sessions at local bars and restaurants: Tavern of Fine Arts on October 23, The Schlafly Tap Room on January 29, and Four Hands Brewing Company in Soulard in April. There will also be free concerts at Ladue Chapel, Washington University's Danforth Center, and McKendree University's Bothwell Chapel. They're nothing if not peripatetic. There's even a "Very Open Rehearsal" series in which the audience sits in on the first rehearsal of a piece, providing "an opportunity for students and community members to see working artists in action and learn how a work develops from the beginning stage of sight-reading to the final polished performance."

Established back in 2007 "over a nice glass of wine and perhaps some cheese and maybe a little Prokofiev" by core members Jennifer Gartley (flute), Laura Reycraft (viola), Adrianne Honnold (sax), and Dana Hotle (clarinet), TCP (according to its mission statement) "embraces the communicative and collaborative nature of chamber music to create interactive performances reflecting a 21st-century audience, and creates partnerships with both traditional and non-traditional venues, all types of artists, institutions, and the community."

"Chamber Project Saint Louis," says the group's press release, "offers a different kind of concert experience. The audience is invited into an active listening experience with introductions to the music by the musicians, as well as room for personal conversations with the musicians during and after the concert. Casual and informative, the concert experience is open and inviting to new audiences as well as seasoned concert goers." Their coming season, their sixth, "is an adventure through the dramatic" in which audiences will "experience the thrill of live chamber music with a tale to tell." This is cutting-edge stuff in the classical music world, and it's all home brewed right here in St. Louis. For more information:

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