WCRB, Groupmuse Target Classical Performance to Beyoncé Generation
Grassroots social network brings classical music to millennial house parties
Special Groupmuse performance scheduled at WGBH Fraser Performance Studio on April 25
BOSTON, Mass. (April 14, 2014) – While much has been written about the graying audience for classical music, the most successful modern pop artists continue to sample music first performed 250 years ago. Alicia Keys’ “Piano and I,” Robin Thicke’s “When I Get You Alone” and Bright Eyes’ “Road to Joy” all sample music written by Beethoven. Big Boi’s “General Patton” heavily samples Verdi’s “Aida.”
In an effort to better connect Millennials with classical music performance, 99.5 WCRB – WGBH’s listener-supported classical radio station and the only radio station in Boston dedicated to classical – has partnered with Groupmuse, a grassroots social network that brings small ad hoc chamber ensembles into recent graduates’ and young professionals’ apartments across many of Boston’s hippest neighborhoods. On Friday, April 25, WCRB and Groupmuse will officially kick off the partnership with a special Groupmuse performance at the WGBH Fraser Performance Studio in Brighton.
“For decades, orchestras, classical radio programmers, and pop artists have tried to connect younger generations with the greatest music ever composed. Groupmuse is among the first – and certainly the most innovative – grassroots efforts I’ve seen to involve younger listeners with Bach, Beethoven and others who continue to influence pop culture,” WCRB station manager Anthony Rudel said. “I am very excited to be an official partner with Groupmuse. Even if I’m older than their members, I’m looking forward to having Groupmuse over at WCRB’s house later this month.”
Groupmuse, founded by Sam Bodkin in 2012 when he was 22, connects volunteer hosts with hustling musicians and people interested in music for what’s been described as “semi-public classical musical performances.” WCRB will be the organization’s official radio partner and WCRB station manager Anthony Rudel will serve as an official advisor to help the group expand in Boston and other markets.
“I don’t agree with the premise that classical music needs saving. It’s alive and well and waiting to be discovered by my generation,” said Bodkin. “Our partnership with WCRB and WGBH will help Groupmuse continue to grow and encourage an earlier appreciation for some of the best music ever written.”
Rudel and Bodkin present a unique partnership. While separated in age by more than 30 years, Rudel also broke onto the classical scene shortly after he reached the legal drinking age as a host for WQXR in New York. Since joining WCRB as station manager in January, the station has emerged as an industry leader in developing new audiences for classical music.
The partnership between WCRB and Groupmuse will be the cornerstone of the public radio station’s ongoing efforts to engage with more diverse audiences and build an appreciation for classical music among non-traditional classical audiences. Last week, building toward this announcement, WCRB launched a competition in partnership with The Boston Conservatory to commission a new sonic identity for the station and released a “Run with WCRB” Spotify playlist for runners of all abilities.
WGBH Boston is America’s preeminent public broadcaster and the largest producer of PBS content for TV and the Web, including Masterpiece, Antiques Roadshow, Frontline, Nova, American Experience, Arthur, Curious George, and more than a dozen other prime-time, lifestyle, and children’s series. WGBH’s television channels include WGBH 2, WGBX 44, and the digital channels World and Create. WGBH TV productions focusing on the region’s diverse community include Greater Boston, Basic Black, and High School Quiz Show. WGBH Radio serves listeners across New England with 89.7 WGBH Boston Public Radio; 99.5 WCRB; and WCAI, the Cape and Islands NPR® Station. WGBH also is a major source of programs for public radio (among them, PRI’s The World®), a leader in educational multimedia (including PBS LearningMedia™, providing the nation’s educators with free, curriculum-based digital content), and a pioneer in technologies and services that make media accessible to deaf, hard of hearing, blind, and visually impaired audiences. WGBH has been recognized with hundreds of honors: Emmys, Peabodys, duPont-Columbia Awards and Oscars. Find more information at wgbh.org.
Groupmuse’s origins can be traced back to the Allston apartment of pianist Cristian Budu, in 2010. At Linden Hall, as the pad was known, musicians from New England Conservatory would gather for chamber music house parties that would rattle the rafters with the sweet sounds of Brahms late into the night. Groupmuse founder Sam Bodkin was lucky enough to be invited to these Linden Hall concerts and he was so taken with the experience that he decided this was the future of classical music. The rest will hopefully be history. More information at groupmuse.com.