Cast in the glow of red light, performances by Classical Revolution Indianapolis—a group made up mostly of off-duty members of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra—take strings and keys out of stately concert halls and into the pleasantly hole-in the-wall atmosphere of the Chatterbox Jazz Club.
Classical Revolution lets the musicians have fun with their work, says ISO first violinist Sherry Hong. “The stage there allows us to do a lot more individual expression as opposed to being a part of a whole orchestra,” she says of the group, which has chapters across the country. “It creates a no-pressure environment where musicians can come play music before concerts or do a run-through. It’s less pressure, and we’re less nervous than we would be on a concert stage.”
The group provides a mix of traditional music, like Beethoven string quartets, and trendier, experimental pieces to attract a wide audience on the first Tuesday of every month.
Expect close quarters, marker smudges on the walls, year-round Christmas lights, and a handwritten wine menu. Sit in the front to rub shoulders with the musicians, or in the back to quietly observe. Either way, you’ll feel like a part of the small-stage jam session, even if you quit the clarinet in seventh grade.
The evenings are one way to attract newcomers to full-scale ISO concerts. “So many people have talked about wanting to go to the symphony, but they’re afraid they won’t understand the music or they’ll feel intimidated,” says Hong. “But when people come to Chatterbox, it’s not as scary. Classical Revolution breaks down those barriers.”