Any list of the best classical concerts to hear in Dallas this August is going to be a short one. Toward the end of the month, the Fort Worth Symphony is putting on a mini festival of music by Brahms and Dvorák (featuring guest soloist Augustin Hadelich on violin). But apart from those three concerts, classical pickings are slim in this month.
A quiet month isn't a bad thing. It's a natural part of the cycle of how performing arts organizations are generally scheduled; think of it as a lull before busy seasons launch in September, or the only real chance for over-scheduled musicians to take a much needed vacation.
The break does give us an opportunity to look outside the box a bit. Besides the symphony, the opera and established chamber groups that follow regular season schedules, where is classical music happening in Dallas?
Last week, I caught the better part of an episode of the Diane Rehm show on NPR that featured a panel of classical musicians, critics and conservatory administrators discussing the future of classical music. Throughout the hour, several panelists mentioned Groupmuse, a new model for classical concerts that's gotten a lot of press recently. Groupmuse connects classical musicians with local hosts who want to put on a relaxed chamber music concert in their home. Think of it as the Airbnb or Lyft of classical concerts.
If you head to the user-friendly homepage of Groupmuse, you'll be directed to click on a big red button that reads "Attend a Groupmuse." And you'll want to -- especially after watching a couple videos of these charming and social in-home concerts. The group's "about" page is pretty inspiring as well, ending with this statement: "It's a truism that risks losing its urgency by becoming a cliché but here goes: The powerful forces in our commerce-driven society are pushing us apart. Art brings us together. Come to a groupmuse. You'll see what we mean."
Click on that big red button and you'll find a list of cities to choose from: Boston, San Francisco and New York top the list of course, but also Atlanta, Boulder, Denver and Seattle. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Dallas isn't listed. We always seem to be a little late to the game on these sort of things.
But there's no reason we can't be next. Both UNT and SMU are constantly matriculating and spitting out into our city a high number of well-trained, fantastic young musicians who need performance opportunities, and we certainly have no shortage of cool spaces for house parties or interesting people to attend them. If you've been wanting to expand your social circle, throw an interesting party or try out classical music in a more relaxed setting, you're probably the perfect host.
The one thing that Groupmuse doesn't do as well as say Airbnb or Lyft, is compensate the people providing the service. The only way performers at Groupmuse concerts are paid is through donations (a literal pass-the-hat kind of situation where guests drop cash tips into a hat or bucket at the end of the concert). This is a shame. You wouldn't dream of renting your house out to strangers through Airbnb on the hopes that the person staying in your house will leave a couple hundred bucks on the nightstand. Classical musicians deserve more than this kind of old fashioned donation-based payment method. In the meantime though, if you do host a Groupmuse, make sure you remind everyone that the entertainment for the evening is not free, so hit that ATM on your way to the party.
That being said, let's make this happen in Dallas. The steps on Groupmuse's website for how to get this started in a new city are pretty simple. Read them for yourselves and then, please, click on that "Let's do it!" button and make it happen. I'll be the first to sign up.