Colin Marshall sits down in San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Gardens with Cariwyl Hebert, founder of the community-based classical music appreciation society Salon97. They discuss New Yorker classical music critic Alex Ross’ hatred of “classical music”; her project of pretension removal and safe-place creation; how she identified a need in the way her work in classical music proved a reliable conversation-ender; developing and implementing the idea of the classical listening party around which Salon97 is now based; listening party themes that draw attention and/or create tension, and how she strikes the correct balance between too schmaltzy and not schmaltzy enough; having to begin musical discussions with pure opinion, and bringing out the controversial lives of the composers to generate discussion; returning the social aspect to classical music, by beer, wine, or other means; what, exactly, a composer can infuse their music with while keeping it “classical”; the life of the classical music enthusiast in San Francisco, whether or not it crosses into competitive culture-vulturing; what a Salon97 listening party is actually like, versus Ross’ experience of the concert hall; why we sat down at our concerts in the Victorian era and never stood back up; the casualizing influence of the tech industry and how it opens up the various levels of San Francisco culture; and how you can watch Mozart doing stuff.
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