Life is crazy and challenging and chaotic and uncertain. Not just for me, for everyone, everywhere. It’s important for our mental, emotional and physical well-being to shut the world out from time to time, to live in the light, to find joy.
Well, that certainly happened for me last Sunday …
… when I was lucky enough to be one of about 35 people who attended a casual, intimate, private, classical music concert. Not in the evening, in a darkened concert hall, which is what you’d expect. This concert took place in the afternoon, in a sun-drenched living room.
And on this day the living room happened to belong to a friend and former colleague — Bryan Tenenhouse and his wife Cori Halpern. But it could take place in my living room or yours.
Have you ever heard of Groupmuse? I confess I had not, until Bryan posted on Facebook about a concert at a friend’s home he and Cori went to last Spring. At the time he wrote that he and Cori loved it so much they wanted to host one themselves. Which they did, over two glorious hours, on Sunday afternoon.
What an extraordinary idea it is. Anyone can host. Anyone can attend. That’s right, you don’t have to know the host(s), total strangers are welcome too — everyone just has to reserve a spot for $3. Hosts provide nibbles and guests bring whatever they want to drink — and a minimum of $15 for each musician.
Groupmuse started in the States about five or so years ago (and is now in many cities); and happily for those of us who live in Toronto, it was brought here by four passionate music-lovers — some of whom are musicians themselves — in June 2017.
Of all the folks at Bryan and Cori’s, the majority were people they didn’t know. Which is fabulous. We all got to make new friends, while we enjoyed some beautiful music. Speaking of which, we were entertained (and soothed) by two well-known cellists, Tom Mueller and Wendy Solomon, who introduced themselves as Bach to Bach — and who, not surprisingly, played some Bach, some Vivaldi and, somewhat unexpectedly, also played a jazzy blues ballad and some Beatles.
I loved the informality of it. I loved the chemistry between Tom and Wendy — they’ve been playing together for a very long time, they’re good friends, and you could feel it. They were also charming and funny and punctuated their playing with interesting anecdotes. The whole room was entranced and I was sorry when it was over, we all were. I could have listened for much longer.
But most of all, I loved the intimacy of it. We are blessed in Toronto to have several concert halls, all with amazing acoustics. But nothing will ever compare — at least for me — with having musicians an arms’ length away, to feel the vibration coming from their instruments, to be so close it’s as if you are literally inside the music. It was an incredible experience and while this was my first Groupmuse concert, it won’t be my last.
It was Kahlil Gibran who said it best: “Music is the language of the spirit. It opens the secret of life bringing peace, abolishing strife.” How wonderful to be able to share that gift, with likeminded souls, in your own living room. There is beauty in this complicated world of ours, and it’s right under our noses.