Spinning the Hottest Shostakovich East of the Spree!

I am packing and repacking for my trip to the APAP conference, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity point out a great story that appeared on Artsjournal.com about a rotating club show in Berlin that has people packing techno clubs on Monday nights despite the lack of advertising to listen to chamber orchestras.

Every first Monday a club night called Yellow Lounge rotates among the hottest clubs in the city. According to the article, one club turned over 100 people away. The live performance is sandwiched between DJs playing classical recordings. Part of the appeal to attendees seems to be the approach to classical music the DJs and performers bring.

“What is particularly enjoyable about the Yellow Lounge is that it is not at all intimidating. You don’t need to know anything about classical music to feel at home. There is none of the snobbery associated with the genre; Canisius never gives you a “Duh! It’s Mozart, dummy” look if you ask what he has just played, and the musicians tend to introduce each track with a non-patronising explanation of its importance. He welcomes requests, too, but only plays them “if the mood is right”.

Admission is only five euros ($7.33). Universal Music, seeing an opportunity to change perceptions about classical music, underwrites the cost of the event. The organizers are apparently free to book who they like, but many of the artists are on a Universal label.

I am not going to suggest that a similar program could be successful in the U.S. because I suspect that classical music has a more prominent place in the collective consciousness of Germans than U.S. citizens. Even if younger Germans are turning away from classical music, I imagine that the concept of what type of person listens to the music isn’t as narrowly defined as it is in the U.S.

But perhaps there is some sort of program that might have success that doesn’t necessarily involve plugging instruments into amps.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker (artshacker.com) website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (http://www.creatingconnection.org/about/)

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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