I’m not a classical music person.

For some context, I’ve been listening to The Life of Pablo by Kanye West on repeat for two months.

But my buddy Bobby Buka invited me on Facebook to a private classical music concert that he was hosting at his apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Here’s what the invitation looked like:

A Private House Concert in Williamsburg: Schubert Flute Concerto

A Private House Concert in Williamsburg: Schubert Flute Concerto

I attended, it was great, and now I’m writing about it.

My goal in sharing this is to encourage others to attend or host similar events.

NYC House Concerts

The party was produced in conjunction with NYC House Concerts, an organization founded in 2005 which has done hundreds of these small shows in people’s apartments.

With attendance to classic cultural events dwindling among millennials, few of my friends, if any, regularly go to the symphony. Maybe the symphony suffers from the waning attention spans of mobile phone addicts like me.

The Venue

Bobby’s apartment is a beautiful sprawling penthouse duplex with tons of character. He has infused so much of his own life’s journey into the interior design. He also has a Great Dane, so I knew this party was going to be cool.

Logistics

It was free to attend. A donation bowl was available, and several of us contributed money.

Party guests were instructed to “wear inspiring socks” on the invitation since it was a shoes free apartment. As a total museum junkie, this was the perfect opportunity to sport my Birth of Venus footwear.

Socks with The Birth of Venus on them

Entrance was forbidden after 8:35pm because “Flutes and doorbells don’t mix!” I arrived around eight o’clock and mingled with a glass of wine for thirty minutes until the music started.

The Concert

The musicians were playing a flute and a guitar. Hands down, they were the best-dressed people at the party. Their names were Martha Ellen Cargo (flute) and Etienne Guerin (guitar).

IMG_5787

photo from Michael Reingold at NYC House Concerts. That’s me front right in the white shirt!

The musicians were highly skilled and had a world class level of polish. I’m sorry I didn’t take more notes, like what they played exactly. The invitation says Schubert, Piazzolla, and Takemitsu.

My Thoughts

Classical music tends to make me inspired, and then tired. At the beginning, I drift off in my head and get thoughts about work (new things!) and life (big plans!).

But eventually I get tired.

The music makes me sleepy, and this night was no different. I ended up leaving almost immediately after the set was complete.

Being the nerd that I am, I left brainstorming ways to make an in-home classical music show a little more compelling for a guy like me.

Things That Worked Very Well

  1. Bobby was a great host. Having it at his apartment, being personally invited = it felt exclusive. Then he printed welcome signs for downstairs and served us all cheese from his farm to go with the wine. It felt very VIP.
  2. The “wear cool socks” on the invitation note was dope. Taking off our shoes immediately made it a slightly more intimate event.
  3. Classical musicians are disciplined. I truly appreciated that this event started right on time.
  4. Did I mention his dog, the Great Dane? He was cool too.
  5. Wine beforehand helped everybody to loosen up.
  6. Extending an invitation via Facebook was a good choice. This helped me see who else was attending and gave me easy reminders.

Things I Would Improve

  1. Break up the performances. Instead of one 30- to 60-minute section, I would split the live music into two to three 15-minute sections, with drinking and mingling in-between.
  2. Some structured interactions among guests, such as name tags or an icebreaker. Introductions at cultural events are key to build ties among loose tribes. A quick round of “Say your name, and what you do for work” helps foster community at a unique event and gives people an excuse to mingle during breaks.

Conclusion

I am glad that I went.

This was the first classical music concert that I’ve attended in a long time. I believe it was successful: the house was packed, we told our friends the next day, and some of us tipped the musicians.

Classical music has withstood the test of time despite frequent questions about its relevance. Innovative and intimate live events like this private house concert that Bobby hosted will help foster more appreciation among my peers.

More info: NYC House Concerts:  Home Page

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