ClassyAF is a classical music experience put together by two sisters that revives and subverts the sophisticated performance for millennials by fusing it with a bar-hopping experience. The performance retains the roots of classical music, but alters the experience to target younger audiences with cheap food, beverages and a more laid back environment. The initiative hopes to bring the music form back into the mainstream by detaching it from the notion that it is reserved for richer and older consumers.
Naomi and Talisa Blackman are the entrepreneurs behind ClassyAF that will offer a mixture of contemporary music styles reinterpreted on violins, pianos and cellos. The music will be played in a setting that is less fancy and serves beer and tacos. The effort hopes to fuse what millennials already enjoy to do on the weekend with classical music to make the experience much more approachable.
Organizers behind a new concert series are hoping the tasty delights can prove key to attracting a younger audience to classical chamber music.
Talisa and Naomi Blackman are behind ClassyAF, a weekly chamber music concert taking over La Rev Mexican restaurant and bar in July.
Younger Torontonians see classical music as “stodgy and boring” and the concert hall as less fun than going out to the bar, Naomi said.
“They think they have to go to something a bit fancier to see classical music, so we want to give an opportunity to hear great classical in a different environment.”
The program features shorter pieces than a typical symphony performance, with songs people will recognize from other genres. Shows will feature jazz standards interpreted on violin and piano, cellists covering Canadian rock staples, and popular songs from the scores of West Side Story and Fantasia.
The daughters of musicians, Talisa and Naomi grew up in a house filled with classical music. It wasn’t until they got older — now 29 and 27 — that they realized how atypical their musical tastes were among their age group.
“There is a lot of desire from classical musicians in this city to bring the music we love and perform into the spaces we frequent normally in our lives,” Talisa said. “There is so much incredible classical talent in Toronto it shouldn’t be confined to just the major concert halls.”
The sisters say concertgoers won’t be silenced or shamed for clapping between movements or ordering a drink during the show.
But will there be dancing?
“That would be amazing,” Talisa said. “If you’re grooving in your seat, that’s definitely the goal. These are definitely tunes people will leave humming.”