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Do you have eclectic tastes in music? Do you enjoy “highbrow” or “middlebrow” musical presentations? You may wish to join those who have already discovered the Monday night music series “Southside Casual Classics,” presented at the Camp House on Williams Street. The series has already entered its third season at this accommodating venue. If you’ve not already heard, musicians of all varieties have been praising the Camp House for its clear acoustic qualities and for quietly attentive and responsive audiences.
People who have regularly attended this series since its first concert in July 2011 have enjoyed grand piano, guitar and ensemble instrumentalists, as well as choirs and large ensembles.
Southside Casual Classics was founded by Cindy Solfest-Wallis, a flutist, who continues to organize these monthly shows. Sponsorship has been provided by Cartwright, Hitching & Frazier, a private wealth management firm. Solfest-Wallis explains her concept, “…When you can come to a coffeehouse and hear solo or chamber music, which is so personal and intimate, hopefully you will begin to realize that this music was the popular music of its day. And if you learn about the composer and why it was written or who it was written for, that knowledge makes listening a personal journey.”
Clearly, part of this personal listening experience now involves the shared experience of a number of casual listeners who regularly return to these evening shows. Slated on the second Monday of each month, the shows are free, though free-will donations to performing musicians are encouraged.
Partly because of the diversity of its musical offerings, the Camp House has developed into a significant music venue in downtown Chattanooga. The fact that the very excellent coffee beverages have now been augmented with excellent beers has provoked an enthusiastic response. Significantly, Southside Casual Classics shows have provided an ample portion of that musical diversity, introducing both audiences and performers within its uniquely informal performances.
The upcoming show on Sept. 9 will feature the “Artisti Affamati Quartet” (“Starving Artists”), including Ted Lang, baritone, Sara Snider Scnone, mezzo-soprano, Beth DuRoy, soprano, and Keith Rollins, tenor. Such an opportunity to hear this style of singing doesn’t often present itself, so you may want to mark your calendar.
Recently, Brassworks returned to the series, providing nuanced arrangements of music from New Orleans, popular songs and marches. It’s really a pleasure to appreciate the intricate responses of such committed musicians. More music from New Orleans will be featured in a January “Mardi Gras” show by River City Red Hots Dixieland Quartet.
While Solfest-Wallis has included the word “classical” in the title of the series, she wants folks to understand that her goals are broader, seeking to include “our local musicians and ensembles, as well as various styles and genres of music, which is shown in the diversity of our concerts this far.”
So, while touring artists may appear at intervals, this series goes a long way into acquainting Chattanoogans with the range and vitality of developing music here.
Some past featured performances have included the Adonia String Trio, Moccasin Brass Quintet, New Art Trio, Triptych Winds, Amabile String Quartet, Jericho Brass Band, Con Brio Strings, Chattanooga Tuba Euphonium Quartet, and the King’s Quire. Some past featured soloists have been music faculty members from schools around the region, and, at times, music students are also featured.
October’s show will present clarinet students of Nicholas Hartline, and in November, SCC will showcase the McCallie Guitar Quartet. Student shows present a wonderful sense of the continuing development of the music scene here, and they provide a fuller sense of the breadth of our music community.
So, if you are wondering what to do on Chattanooga’s famously quiet Monday evenings, check out Southside Casual Classics and surprise your ears—and possibly, your heart.
Southside Casual Classics, first Monday of each month. The Camp House, 1427 Williams St. southsidecasualclassics.weebly.com