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Cape Cod Times - Open Mic Classical Draws Musicians Worldwide

Open Mic Classical Draws Musicians Worldwide

by Barbara Clark

July 17, 2020

Now that Open Mic Classical has gone virtual, “artists from anywhere in the world can show up to give a live performance. Even from Transylvania.

Now that Open Mic Classical has gone virtual, “artists from anywhere in the world can show up to give a live performance from their living rooms,” notes the program’s co-founder.

Even from Transylvania.

That’s where the Tiberius String Quartet will be broadcasting its music from Sunday afternoon for a Zoom version of Open Mic Classical. The monthly performance program, based at the First Parish Brewster Unitarian Universalist Church through this sixth season, is continuing through the summer after its spring session was cut short by coronavirus-related shutdowns.

Among the performers for Sunday’s July edition will be the Hungarian string quartet from Transylvania, an enclave in Romania that attracts a population of many nationalities as well as musicians from a variety of musical traditions.

According to clarinetist Monika Veress Woods, co-founder and artistic director of Open Mic Classical, the Tiberius “world-class ensemble,” which performs in the European string quartet tradition, will present “a diverse program inspired by Hungarian, Romanian and Gypsy music ... representing Transylvania in an authentic way.”

Selections will include music by Bartók, who often used melodies and rhythms of Hungarian and Romanian folk music; and Brahms, whose music contains Hungarian Gypsy influences.

Woods, who moved permanently to the United States in 2006, is also originally from Transylvania, where she and members of the quartet attended the same academy of music in Romania, and her longtime childhood friend married a member of the ensemble.

Open Mic Classical has been a popular addition to the local open-mic tradition since 2015, offering a unique, informal showcase for classical musicians throughout the area. Woods was inspired to take the program online after participating in a spring Zoom house concert on Cape Cod, hosted by pianist Michael Holt of Truro, often a performer at the Brewster open mics.

The usually off-season program first became virtual in May and June, and started drawing participants and listeners from around the world.

The virtual format is similar to the live programs, where participants “meet, perform, stop, talk and present pieces” with ongoing informal interaction. Often participants arrive early to set up, and there’s a lot of what Woods calls pre-concert “schmoozing.” Last month, she says, they ended up talking about “how music (has) brought us together and kept us in touch.”

Musicians who want to take part in the open mic can sign up ahead of time, or on that day. Participants “are always showing up at the last moment,” she notes. Sometimes a person may sign onto the Zoom format “just to listen, and end up saying ‘I’d like to play.’”

The Zoom interactive videoconferencing format, she adds, allows the musicians to “see their audience’s faces ... and everyone can ask questions (and) share impressions.”

It’s been important, she says, “to keep the connection with the musicians.”

If you go

What: Open Mic Classical, featuring the Tiberius String Quartet

When: 3 p.m. Sunday

Where: On Zoom

Admission: Free (but donation suggested to support continued performances)

To participate: Check just before performance to get the password to join the event


"This program is supported in part by a grant from the Brewster Cultural Council, Harwich Cultural Council, Orleans Cultural Council, local agencies which are supported by the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency."

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