Classical music strikes a chord in Paris cafés

By Sarah Elzas 

The Classical Revolution that started six years ago in San Francisco is now reverberating in Paris. Once a month a group of American musicians perform classical music in a Paris café.

Nicolas Boucher and Sarah Niblack of Classical Revolution Paris
Pak-Ming Wan

You don’t usually hear classical music in bars. You’ll hear pop music or rock music," says Kyle Collins. But these days, he's trying to change that. An American musician living in France, he is the co-founder of Classical Revolution Paris, which brings together groups of musicians to play chamber music in bars and cafés. 

"People can experience music that they might not have heard of or might not have had an opportunity to hear," he says.

At a recent concert, musicians stood on a raised platform at the back of a cafe in Paris' Belleville neighbourhood in front of a black board announcing the weekly DJ set.

And while a flute duo played Bach and a violin-viola duo played Mozart, people stood at the bar drinking a beer, or sat at the café tables, some paying attention to the music,others chatting with their friends.
"You know in real time what the audience feels, and how they’re engaged," says Sarah Niblack, the other American behind the project.

"In this setting, there is no fourth wall. You have to communicate directly with the people who are sitting right in front of you and with you. And sometimes they’re going to talk. So as a musician the challenge is to really grab the audience’s attention."

Classical Revolution is an imported idea from the United States, born in 2006 in San Francisco at the Revolution Cafe. It spread around the US: Collins was involved in the Cincinnati chapter, Niblack in New York. Both living in France now, they decided Paris needed a dose of classical music for the people.

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