One of the greatest obstacles for a classical music artist to overcome is exposure. It is very hard to find a venue that will allow you to play where anyone can hear you. Artists have lots of group shows and there are street festivals galore that have art competitions and display the winners. Even the State Fair of Texas has such a competition for everything from oil painting to photography to hand-made quilts. Not for the struggling classical musician.
Into this breach, Classical Open Mic has bravely stepped. Kristin Center and Michael Jackson found a willing venue at Buzzbrews Kitchen on Lemmon Ave. It is a coffee house with a menu that is loosely based on the breakfast all-day concept. They also have beer and wine. There is a small band stand-ish area for the performers and comfortable chairs and tables for the audience. The food looked good, but I only had a beer on the Tuesday when I visited, Feb. 15.
That evening, there were three different performers: pianist Saule Tlenchiyeva, guitarist Leo Garcia and violist Mark Landson. All three are fine players. The unfortunate part is that the piano at Buzzbrews is terrible. No, there has to be a word that is worse than “terrible.” Horrendous, perhaps? It is a dreadful spinet of undetermined parentage that has endured years of abuse. The need of a good tuning is only the most superficial aspect of its deficiencies. The only piece that it is fit for is John Cage’s 4’33.
The performers who brought their own instruments and did not require the piano certainly fared better. Although Tlenchiyeva is obviously a fine pianist, and she made a valiant effort to make the poor piano sound, she was fighting an uphill battle from the first notes.
That serious reservation aside, Classical Open Mic is a lot of fun, and a welcome diversion in the world of classical music, which can often be stuffy. It’s informal and the couple of dozen or so fans that turned out to hear the performers were enthusiastic and appreciative.
I am told that symphony members and other local musical celebrities occasionally turn up. It is hit or miss with open mic formats no matter what the genre.
The festivities start at 7:30 p.m. every Tuesday. You can come and go as you like since it is not a formal concert. Who knows, you may hear the next super star of the classical world.