In Paris, there are many opportunities to hear chamber music, but this series is truly unique. It makes the music approachable.
Sinfonietta, a Paris chamber music organization, sponsors a series called Music by the Glass which features intimate concerts in small concert halls and private homes throughout the city. The same concert is performed on Friday and Saturday evenings, once in a hall and once in a lovely, spacious Paris home. Audiences usually number around 100, and such small gatherings mean there are no bad seats. Seating is not assigned, so you can decide on your place after you see the hall. These comfortable yet elegant venues let you experience chamber music the way it was meant to be heard–up close and personal.
Artistic director Michael Boone chooses the music carefully, and includes not only music that is familiar to chamber music lovers but more unusual works as well. The 2017-2018 season includes well-known masters such as Mozart and Ravel, and lesser-known composers such as Britain’s Frank Bridge; Germaine Tailleferre, who was the only female member of Les Six; and Debussy’s piano trio, which was lost for decades after his death and first performed in the 1980s. The concerts last about one hour, with no intermission. Before the concert Dr. Boone gives the audience background information on the the music and the performers (in English with French translation). The quiet setting and description of the music and performers lets the audience invest emotionally in the music, and the intimate setting and varied choice of repertoire are a welcome change.
The performers are all young people, graduates of some of Europe’s best conservatories, and currently working in orchestras or engaged in solo and chamber careers. These chamber groups perform throughout Europe.
What truly makes Music by the Glass unique is the afterparty. The evening is not over when the music ends: after the concert, everyone enjoys aperos and wine while mingling with the performers. The audience usually consists of French and expats, so dress is Paris casual and the conversation is lively and diverse.