Chamber Project St. Louis Brings Music To Unlikely Places

Classical chamber music performed on a Metrolink train, at the Schlafly Tap Room, Crave Coffee House or in the lobby of Siteman Cancer Center?

Chamber Project St. Louis has presented concerts at all of these unlikely locations and many more since the group’s debut in 2008. According to Jennifer Gartley, one of the co-founders of the non-profit music organization along with Dana Hotle and Laura Reycraft, presenting chamber music in unusual venues is at the core of Chamber Project’s mission.

“Basically, the idea is to break down people’s concepts about attending a formal classical concert,” Gartley says during a recent conversation at the Gaslight Lounge, the site of an upcoming Chamber Project event on Wednesday, November 16.

That evening, members of the Chamber Project will use the Gaslight’s recording studio to document compositions performed at recent concerts. Gartley explains that the public recording at Gaslight is another way to extend the Chamber Project philosophy of presenting classical music in unusual and relaxed settings.

“In addition to our concerts, we also present what we call ‘Very Open Rehearsals,'” she explains. “We actually rehearse pieces that we’re going to perform in concert beforehand in front of an audience, talk about the music and take questions too. It’s been a great way to get the audience very involved in the music from the beginning.

“So we wanted to carry that concept of audience involvement out to the very end,” Gartley continues. “And what is the very end? It could be the performance, but it could also be a recording. So we thought about putting a recording together and involve the audience in the whole arc of the music.”

The pieces that Chamber Project will record at Gaslight will include “The Delmar Wall,” a composition by Adam Maness of the 442s commissioned that Chamber Project had commissioned.

Story continues below the photo.

L to R: Chamber project St. Louis founders Laura Reycraft, Jennifer Gartley & Dana Hotel

Chamber Project St. Louis founders Laura Reycraft, Jennifer Gartley and Dana Hotle

“We did an open rehearsal of Adam’s piece at the Dark Room and then performed it twice in concert, so it’s ideal to now go in to record it in the studio with an audience,” Gartley says. “We’ll also record a couple of things we’re playing the Sunday before [that] at 1900 Park: Francaix’s ‘Quintet for Flute, Harp and Strings’ and Dohnanyi’s ‘Serenade for String Trio.’ Being able to record those pieces three days later will be interesting.”

Gartley also emphasizes that this month’s open recording won’t be a typical session with take after take interrupting the flow of the music.

“We want to make the takes as long as possible and play full, long movements of the pieces straight through,” Gartley says. “And people can enjoy whatever amount of the session they want to in the lounge with drinks, as well food from Cha Cha Chow tacos on the other side of the lounge.”

Chamber Project is not charging admission for the Gaslight recording session. Instead, there’s a requested $10 donation to help cover recording expenses. If all goes well, Chamber Project hopes to present more open recording sessions at Gaslight.

“It’s cool. I don’t know anyone else who has done this as far as recording classical music,” Gartley says. “We’re going to get feedback from the audience about how they like it. It’s going to be a different audience for us, with people talking and eating instead of a sit down concert.

“But it’s also a really great way for people to try out chamber music,” she continues. “Hey, you know you like tacos, you like to drink, and you like music! So this is a cool way to get your feet wet. I think it’ll work and we’ll keep doing it.”

Featured photo courtesy of Gaslight Lounge.

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