I used to think that classical music was extraordinarily stuffy. I associated classical music with fancy, put-together people who have no sense of humor and spent hours upon hours carefully rehearsing pieces written by dead people from the 19th century. Of course, against all reasonable logic, that’s what made it so appealing to me as a kid. I believed that if I could fully embrace and embody everything that I believed classical music stood for, I could become one of the classy, sophisticated people that graced the covers of my CDs. And that’s the story of how I got into classical music.
Fast-forward 15 years. Mallory Rutigliano and I have just completed the most recent installment of the Collis Cabaret series, entitled “Classical Reimagined” and made possible by the Sykes Memorial Concert Fund and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. We invited student groups and faculty members to perform music works that are more than just your usual classical pieces, in a casual and comfortable setting. Performances ranged from classical piano improv alongside videos of microbes, to bossa nova jazz, to a student-faculty classical-style quartet.
As these performances were going on, the audience lounged around Collis Common Ground, enjoying the music while casually chatting with friends, sipping on wine, or nibbling on the cheese and Lou’s Pie.
The environment was completely different than that of any classical music performance I had ever attended (except for the Collis Cabaret installment we organized last year, of course). Personally (contrary to the beliefs of my 5-year-old self), I genuinely enjoyed the more casual feel of this event – and so did the audience. It gave us the opportunity to bring classical music outside the confines of the Hop, and prove to students, including ourselves, that classical music can be more personal than just fancy people on a stage in a large concert hall. Opportunities like this one allow students to connect more with the performers and the music, and isn’t that what music is about? Not gaining class or sophistication, but rather sharing abilities and experiences between the performers and the audience.
Video produced by Max von Hippel ‘19.
By Cynthia Tan ’17
Cynthia Tan, ’17, is a biomedical engineering major from Old Lyme, CT. When she isn’t slaving away on problem sets, she can be found playing percussion with the wind ensemble, brainstorming ways to engage students in classical music at the Hop, or counting neurons in rat brains at a research lab at DHMC.