Kristin Mastre, Scoop Blog Network founder and blogger behind Feasting Fort Collins, Fresh Air Fort Collins, and Budding Fort Collins brings us a guest post after attending Bach and Beer presented by the Fort Collins Symphony!
When I was a little kid, I would spend a lot of time with my Grandma feeding the ducks at the park, coloring at her kitchen table, and going to the ballet for our traditional family visit to see the Nutcracker. All of these moments were filled with the soundtrack of classical music in the background. The kids in our family were very familiar with a variety of composers before reaching the age of 16.
I’ve enjoyed a few performances by the Fort Collins Symphony over the years, but every time I hear them, I feel like it’s not often enough. Since getting married and raising children, those classical moments have faded from my everyday life. It’s creative events like Bach & Beer that provide an approachable, outside the box experience that sparks my interest – and my tastebuds – and brings me back to my musical roots.
Bach and Beer was hosted at Horse & Dragon Brewery this year – a small and cozy brewery filled with nice mix of different folks. Joel Bacon, Stewart and Sheron Golden Chair in Organ and Liturgical Studies at Colorado State University, set up to put his unique spin on some of the classics by Bach. The ticket price included two beers and appetizers provided by Enzio’s with the music for the evening. It was a very intimate, personal performance. I absolutely loved it.
Some friends and I sat back to enjoy the music with beers in hand – music that filled the room with tangible energy. It was fantastic to be so close and personal, to see every keystroke from mere feet away. Joel seemed to have a lot of fun with the technology of the keyboard that allowed him to test out techniques that mimicked a theremin. By stretching some creative boundaries, the audience was brought into the humor of newfangled electronics, with a few hearty chuckles as we listened to “far out” renditions that could have very well been the soundtrack to a space documentary.
The intensity of Joel’s performance was mesmerizing, steam rising from the fermenters and mash tun behind him as if smoke were coming from his ears. There were moments that were stunningly impressive, the energy of the performance drawing us in.
But there are differences between audiences at the Lincoln Center and a brewery – a bit of a Catch 22 to hoping to provide a more accessible classical performance to those outside of the regular symphony ticket holders. Sometimes drawing in a new demographic requires education on attendance manners and general respect for the performance. Much to the dismay of many classical enthusiasts in the audience, a boisterous conversation grew louder and louder from a back table as the night went on. Cold, icy glares were given to those talking as if they were at a brewery on a regular night out with friends, treating the music as background noise, rather than honoring the intention of it being a private event. It was incredibly disruptive and frankly, rude. They were completely oblivious of their inconsiderate behavior, or if they paid attention to the turning heads giving them the stink eye, they paid no mind and ignored everyone’s passive attempts at getting them to shut up. I was nearly ready to shush them myself and asked my friends how rude that would be during a performance. It was irritating and they ruined the last couple of songs for many people.
I hope the symphony continues their efforts in creative performances around Fort Collins, embracing craft beer and classical music, or maybe even moving into cocktails. I also hope they learn from this event that unfortunately they are going to need to educate people on respectful audience behavior, not only reminding people to turn off their phones, but to keep quiet until intermission. That way long-standing symphony supporters and new attendees will all enjoy their night out in Fort Collins.
Regardless, I had a wonderful evening with good friends, great beer, and fantastic classics.