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It was fall 2006 when Charith Premawardhana, a classically trained violist and a graduate of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, moved into the city’s Mission District and discovered Revolution Cafe. A headquarters for the District’s eclectic arts-and-music scene, the “Rev” hosts free live music — jazz, blues, folk — played by the city’s finest musicians.
But missing from the scene at the time was classical music, so the management at the Cafe asked Premawardhana to book a night of chamber music. It was a success, and a couple of months later, the Cafe was hosting a regular weekly chamber music “residency.” Five years later, it’s still going strong every Monday night from 8 to 11 p.m. It also launched a revolution — a Classical Revolution — aimed at bringing live classical music to popular local venues such as bars and coffee shops, where the dress is casual, the atmosphere is friendly and relaxed, and the goal is to have fun in a familiar place you share with neighbors and friends.
Today, Classical Revolution (www.classicalrevolution.com) has local chapters in cities across North America and Europe, with classically trained musicians performing extraordinary music typically associated with expensive concert halls. And last month, the movement celebrated its five-year anniversary with a host of special activities in bars, cafes and taverns where Classical Revolution is active. “Our idea is to reclaim classical music and bring it to the people,” Premawardhana says.
This is an attempt incubate the movement in Milwaukee, a place already rich with classical music in other venues.