Playing the Classics

Surprising venues host classical music series.

By Joe Sugarman - May 2015

Playing the Classics

Surprising venues host classical music series.

By Joe Sugarman - May 2015

Peabody grad Rafaela Dreisin, left, and Stephanie Ray listening to cellists Tobias Morris and Peter Kibbe. -Photography by Justin Tsucalas

It's another Saturday night at Joe Squared: The beer is flowing, the pizzas are square, and Yoshi Horiguchi is in the middle of the crowd, tearing up a version of Bach's "Cello Suite No. 2 in D minor" on his double bass. Not exactly what you'd expect, but there's an insurgency of sorts going on here. Credit Classical Revolution Baltimore.

The organization started in San Francisco nearly a decade ago, as a way for classical musicians to get their acts out of stuffy concert halls and into more populist venues—bars, coffee shops, art galleries. Peabody grad Rafaela Dreisin introduced the revolution, which is now active in over 30 cities worldwide, to Baltimore in 2010. Since then, she and cohort Stephanie Ray have organized more than 75 free concerts in locations from Mt. Vernon Park to Liam Flynn's Ale House. The group holds a monthly residency at Joe Squared cheekily dubbed "Drunk Bach."

For Dreisin, a trumpet player who works for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's OrchKids program, it's all about exposing open minds to her beloved craft. "I grew up being taken to classical music concerts by my parents, but none of my friends were ever interested," she says. "I always thought they would really like it if it was presented to them in a different way."

The musicians themselves—a rotating mix of recent grads from area music programs—appreciate the nontraditional venues as much as the audience does. "It's definitely different than playing in a quiet concert hall," says Horiguchi, who serves as principal bassist with the Hopkins Symphony Orchestra. "Performing in front of a reactive audience is like eating a different cuisine, but I like the variety. Sometimes you want Chinese, sometimes you want pizza."

And sometimes you want a little Bach with your pizza.





You May Also Like


Arts District

BOPA Makes Big Push for Paper Straws at This Year’s Artscape

Pedicabs, paper straws, and zero Styrofoam will make for most sustainable festival yet.

Arts District

Culture Club: Fluid Movement, Surf Music Showcase, and Art/Sound/Now

Our monthly roundup of openings, events, and news from the art world.

Arts District

Light City 2019 is Calling For New Work After Releasing Economic Impact Report

The light, music, and innovation festival brought about $33.5 million and 442,500 visitors to Baltimore


Arts District

Annapolis Festival Proceeds Will Benefit Capital Gazette Families Fund

Kid-friendly music and food fundraiser returns to Anne Arundel County this weekend.

Arts District

The Big Baltimore Playlist: July 2018

The top five local songs you should download right now.

Arts District

We Talk with Liz Cooper & The Stampede at the Firefly Music Festival

The Maryland native and folk-rock artist performed in Delaware on the eve of her debut record.

Peabody grad Rafaela Dreisin, left, and Stephanie Ray listening to cellists Tobias Morris and Peter Kibbe. -Photography by Justin Tsucalas

Connect With Us

Most Read


Center Stage Names Stephanie Ybarra as New Artistic Director: With an interest in social justice and inclusivity, Ybarra will come to Baltimore from New York's Public Theater this fall.

Where to Find the Best Co-Working Spaces in Baltimore: Find free parking, complimentary coffee, and even child care at these shared spaces around town.

Roberto Lugo Taps into Personal and Collective History in Work at The Walters Art Museum: The ceramic artist will present an interactive performance piece inside the Walters' new 1 West Mount Vernon Place.

Maryland Joins Eight States to Sue Trump Administration Over 3D-Printed Guns: A Texas-based company fights for the right to distribute blueprints for firearms online.

Scalawags Pit Meat Brings Barrel-Smoked Barbecue to Local Pop-Ups: Gnocco general manager Sam White launches a pit beef project.