Can you make classical music popular by performing it in places where popular music is played? Some musicians apparently think so.
Good local musicians have been toiling largely unheralded in upscale cafes and tea rooms for years, usually for a pittance. But as far as I know, cellist Matt Haimovitz was one of the first more recognizable names to take classical music on the road, so to speak, playing in clubs, taverns, and other venues more often associated with jazz and rock.
How many new listeners this has generated for classical music is still an open question. Nevertheless, a few other musicians have followed his lead. The Chiara Quartet is an example; on Saturday they played at Nighttown in Cleveland Heights.
To be sure, some of the musicians experimenting with non-traditional concert spots have dressed down a bit, and perhaps even used a bit of sound reinforcement. But talk about slippery slopes …