Sometimes, you’re just in the right place, at the right time. And last night was one of those times.
The place was Toronto’s Tranzac Club, and not ten feet from me was soprano Measha Brueggergosman, transforming the room, entertaining, teasing the musicians, educating. Oh that voice! In the background, the occasional piercing squeal of her baby caused chuckles, and her smile widened in obvious pleasure.
This was not a formal concert, planned months in advance. It had been organized on Facebook, by an informal group known as Classical Revolution Toronto* (if you’re on Facebook, you can search for their name). The event’s main organizer was violinist Edwin Huizinga*, who was part of the original Classical Revolution start-up event in San Francisco years ago.
Some of the best musicians in North America gave the concert out of the goodness of their hearts. Measha Brueggergosman joined them — yes no charge — to share the music they love. Other musicians won’t soon forget the experience of playing with these wonderful artists, led by none other than TSO’s guest conductor James Gaffigan.**
Surrounded by other musicians, music lovers, and some surprised, delighted beer drinkers, the room came alive the way it does sometimes at Classical Revolution events – with laughter, musicians of every stripe crowded together, informal clothing, cello cases scattered about, occasional pauses, adjustments, mistakes and more laughter. It’s reminiscent of ‘jamming’, but with classical music.
In Classical Revolution events, great music meets people close up and personal, intimately, in a way that never happens in a concert hall. There’s something precious about seeing the great opera singer teasingly offer her glasses to a violinist, impulsively hugging the conductor, who turns and reaches for his drink, which happens to be on our table. It is magical to see up close the physical power of a great soprano, as her rich voice surrounds you. My tears welled up.
You can feel the strength of the cellists sweeping their bows across the strings, your diaphragm vibrating with the music. Up close, you can see this is not effortless work. You can hear details in the playing, individual styles. You can see the look of admiration one musician has for another. In this case, we could also hear the baby’s squeals – and actually see Brueggergosman’s passionate love for her child.
And was all that not part of the origin of “chamber” music? Chambre is French for bedroom – where music in that era was played amidst children and perhaps aunts, uncles, grandparents, coming and going. It was not so much about the precision or perfection of the composed music, listened to in formal silence, but about a total experience. I imagine such children grew up with that music a part of their souls.
Yes, not like any concert I ever attended. Here the “vibe” of living happens, leaving us with an unforgettable memory. Now that’s a world class moment.