Underground Classical

May 4, 2017
Underground Classical

Part music, part art. All party.


The Waterloo Arts District in the Collinwood neighborhood is on the upswing, and continues to surprise with unique galleries, bold street art, indie record stores and live music (not to mention, a pretty legit pizza joint). As the only corner of Cleveland that is 100% locally owned, it has a character all its own. And one of the perfect examples of this character is a concert series that takes place in a fiber workshop.

Part music performance, part art viewing and all party, Underground Classical Music Series is a relative newcomer to the neighborhood that that's turning the perception of chamber music on its head (while preserving the integrity of the music, of course). The concept is to take classical music aesthetics and fuse it with more modern styles of music. Mix it with a funky artistic ambiance and add in food trucks and wine, and you've got yourself a good time.

Oh, and one other thing. It's free. There's an option for free will donation if you feel moved to do so.

The music

The question that Jennifer Shaw, executive director of Underground Classical, asked herself when coming up with the series was, "How do we recreate the concert experience?" It starts with the music itself.

Three events this year take place at Praxis Fiber Workshop and Gallery on May 19, June 10, and July 7.

First up is Sammy DeLeon and Jackie Warren Latin Jazz Septet at 8 p.m. on May 19. Be prepared to groove to Latin jazz, salsa and merengue. There's definitely no shade thrown your way for dancing during the concert--in fact, to tune up your twinkle-toes (or learn for the first time), there's a free, pre-concert salsa dance lesson at 7 p.m.

June 10, Project Trio is coming to town. A flutist, cellist and bassist combine nearly all genres, including jazz, hip hop, boroque and even metal for something completely new to your ears. This group has played at Carnegie Hall and have gotten shout-outs from the likes of The Wall Street Journal, Downbeat Magazine, The New York Times and Gramophone Magazine. Guys, the flutist beat-boxes.

Harpeth Rising performs on July 7. Three women who combine cello, violin, banjo and vocals to deliver genre-defying music that can really only be described as chamberfolk. Think: a seamless mix of folk, newgrass, rock and classical.

The mood

Praxis is half gallery, half workshop, with old-school wooden looms and spinning wheels sitting alongside sculptures and tapestries. There's a raised stage running along the wall-length windows at the front, but that's not where the musicians will be playing. During Underground Classical events, the musicians are right there in the crowd.

"Chamber music is supposed to be an intimate experience," Shaw said. "It's real. Touchable. And Praxis really brings that forth."

Praxis is a community arts center where artists can rent studio space to work. It also serves as a gallery for local art, and offers classes. The Underground Classical events take place in the gallery portion of the space, but guests are able to do a walkthrough of the workshop as well.

The food

Obviously there's gotta be refreshments at any Cleveland event. Underground Classical doesn't disappoint. In true Cleveland fashion, food trucks (usually themed, based on the performance) make an appearance at the shows. And the wine options pair nicely with the cultural treat you're giving yourself.

Parking is free and available in a lot adjacent to the Praxis building as well as curbside along Waterloo Rd. Come as you are--there's no dress code.

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