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Gomez, Isabel. Photo from Density512. KMFA Classical. July 2017.

"Impromptu Notes" is an ongoing multi-media series created by our interns that gives a behind-the-scenes look at how KMFA handcrafts classical music experiences for all. 

The Austin classical music scene has been expanding over the past few years to a new and unique style of concert. There is an exciting abundance of unconventional classical concerts in our city!

The days of classical concerts consisting only of halls, formal clothing, and silence are dwindling. I recently had the pleasure of attending a concert for the new summer festival Density512. The chamber ensemble, known as the Lab Orchestra from the UT Butler School of Music defines themselves as “a flexible, collaborative, and modern 21st-century-minded chamber orchestra dedicated to sharing new and old music" with audiences in Austin, TX. The performance I attended, called “Bach’s Burgers” after a popular TV show, included repertoire that was inclusive, exciting, and technically difficult, yet all the while extremely entertaining.

My time at KMFA has been mainly focused on community outreach and engaging the Austin public through classical music. As a musician myself, it is easy for me to enjoy a classical concert, but in an innovative concert setting I found myself more captivated by the music because I was given a special experience that felt different and unique.

The musicians at these events are all extremely talented leaders in the Austin music scene. Some of them also play in local bands and bring their classical expertise to new genres. The typical environment is laidback and modern. At Density512, post-concerto you could easily walk up to violinist Sara Sasaki and express your inner music nerd. REVEL, a chamber music collective formed by cellist Joel Becktell and pianist (and KMFA’s Night Music host) Carla McElhaney, is another leader in the unconventional classical concert. Every Sunday at 4th Tap Brewing Co-Op, Revel Unclassified joins Austin’s love of craft beer, brunch, and brand new performances with musicians, poets, and visual artists.

A REVEL performance.

Many of these concerts focus on the aspect of being interactive. Ever feel intimated about the program? At the “Bach’s Burgers” performance, maestro Peter Bay of the Austin Symphony guided the audience in his own interpretation of each piece. The rules of being quiet, no cell phones, and no pictures are no longer a narrative for these performances. You are encouraged to share your experience through social media and with friends.

Every fourth Tuesday of the month, Kick Butt Coffee hosts the Austin Classical Jam. This event is an open environment for chamber groups, classical singers, and other instrumentalists to collaborate and perform new music. The Classical Jam is a fun and laidback environment to connect with local musicians and listen to free classical music.

The author performs at the Austin Classical Jam.

As you can see, there is a plethora of unconventional and exciting classical performances in Austin. I believe these environments are the best way to get new audiences involved in classical music. In a city known for live music, experiencing one of these concerts is a must!

Isabel Gomez is a recent graduate from the University of Texas at Austin. She studied music with an emphasis in voice and is a soprano. In addition to being featured on KMFA’s “From the Butler School,” Isabel has performed with the Austin Opera for several seasons, including most recently as a chorus member in Madame Butterfly. She is enthusiastic about her internship at KMFA, and particularly looking forward to contributing to outreach efforts at the station and spreading the joy of classical music throughout the community!