Fans of classical music can gather at Bar Marco in the Strip District and let their long hair down.
It's an evening with Classical Revolution Pittsburgh, where musicians perform chamber music in a casual atmosphere. You don't need your nose in the air to appreciate the sound.
The presentation is pieced together by Gino Faraci, who lines up the musicians, arranges the music, organizes the rehearsals, books the venue and makes sure the bottles of water are cold.
"There are other organizations called 'classical revolution,' but Classical Revolution Pittsburgh is completely independent," said Mr. Faraci, a New Jersey native and graduate of the Manhattan School of Music, who came to Pittsburgh six years ago with his wife, who works for UPMC.
"It was initially modeled after the original Classical Revolution in San Francisco. But this is different," he said. "They just get together and play the music unrehearsed. And I found there's no real market for that in Pittsburgh. I present highly rehearsed, high-quality chamber music concerts."
It's not that there's a shortage of classical music in Pittsburgh. The trouble, Mr. Faraci said, is that free-lance players don't have a lot of performance options.
"All of the free-lance opportunities to play traditional classical music or the music that we studied are all outside of the Pittsburgh metro area," he said. "In order to play, you have to travel to Erie, Wheeling, Charleston, Canton, Akron. There's none of those things within the city of Pittsburgh, really, unless you're a member of the symphony, in which case you're not a free-lance musician.
"Many of the people that I play with are members of the Pittsburgh Opera, and that is one free-lance opportunity. But in terms of chamber music, there is little to none. There's the Chamber Music Society, which is a fantastic organization here in Pittsburgh, but they don't really employ Pittsburgh musicians. They bring in national acts.
"I'm using highly talented local professional musicians and presenting concerts within the city of Pittsburgh in accessible, alternative venues, and it becomes something that is really fun for musician and audience alike, and nobody has to travel anywhere. It's all right in our neighborhoods.
"I study the schedules of regional orchestras, and I try to schedule around those so the musicians that I ask to play don't interfere with other concerts. I also program the concerts on Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays to minimize the conflicts with other performing groups."
The real revolution is the venue. Mr. Faraci seeks out alternatives where you might not expect to hear classical music.
"We're playing in bars, restaurants, cafes and your apartments," he said. "It's not a new idea. In a lot of ways, the idea of revolution is that it's bringing us back to something we kind of lost along the way.
"We have a really diverse audience. It's the kind of audience that other organizations covet, from young to old."
To make yourself part of the audience, head to Bar Marco at 2216 Penn Ave. in the Strip District at 8 p.m. For $20, you get a voucher for a glass of wine and a nice comfortable seat.
"I'll talk and set the mood and remind people that they can get up and get a drink, eat and mingle while they watch," Mr. Faraci said. "The musicians are not dressed up. There's no formality to this at all. I'll try to set the light mood."
Then, after some irritating, unceremonious tuning of their string instruments, the musicians begin. Two violins, a viola, a cello and a double bass.
The first two pieces are really short. A Bollywood-inspired work followed by a gypsy-influenced piece.
"Then we'll have a brief intermission and we'll set up again," Mr. Faraci said. "We'll add the clarinet and get rid of the bass."
The second act features "The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind," by Osvaldo Golijov. People who know say it's really good.
Mr. Faraci has organized several of these outings, and he said the audiences always have a good time.
"You have to imagine a concert and reception all in one," he said. "That's kind of the idea. It's a very intimate setting, with the audience really close to the musicians. There is not a big disconnect. It's going to feel like one group, musicians and audience together. People are going to talk to each other and may ask questions directly of the musicians. There's a lot of interaction.
"It's rehearsed, it's professional. But, at the same time, I want people to experience a light, fun atmosphere where they can feel as though they're part of the performance, as opposed to this divide between the performer and the audience. I want them to feel comfortable with the whole experience, blending art and entertainment."
This story originally appeared in The Pittsburgh Press. To log in or subscribe, go to: http://press.post-gazette.com/