This Company Is Making Classical Music Relevant Again

By Dan Gurney - December 6, 2013


Who says young people don’t like classical music? Groupmuse, a company started earlier this year by Columbia grad Sam Bodkin, is sparking a new movement in Boston.

After couchsurfing around Europe and then experiencing some house concerts organized by New England Conservatory students, Sam Bodkin had an idea. “For cultural, historical, and economic reasons, classical music has been so marginalized in American culture that it's practically a non-entity at this point,” realized Bodkin. “I really think that our generation doesn't dislike classical music, they just don't care about classical music. I think the issue should be totally reframed. Rather: ‘Our generation needs culture of depth and substance, and classical music can provide that in a dynamic, exciting, living, and breathing way.’”

Enter the “groupmuse,” which gives people an easy way to host live classical music concerts in their home. A groupmuse is a mix between a chamber music concert and a house party. Anyone can host, anyone can attend. The musicians are paid on a pass-the-hat basis and guests are asked to bring beer or wine.

The company is now organizing four groupmuses each week. They fill up within hours and the vast majority of attendees are twentysomethings, “most of whom were not previously classical music listeners, and now they're going every week!” says Bodkin.

This is how to bring classical music back into the mainstream. Focus on the fun, the socializing, and the music – firsthand, with no artifice in the way.

As Bodkin points out, this is “a fertile moment for total reinvention.”

(Photo credit: Ben Gebo)

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