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Bridge the Gap Chamber Players Put Spin on Classical Concerts

New group with Meadows roots explores possibilities in the world of chamber music, seeks to meet fundraising goal by Sept. 6

by Armando A. Aguirre (B.A., Creative Advertising '13)

In the book Listen to This, author Alex Ross details his first experience at a classical music concert. Ross describes entering the beautiful, albeit daunting, lobby of a grand concert hall and then worrying that his choice of clothing isn’t up to the standard of those around him. He then painfully describes his most obvious faux pas: coughing in the middle of the performance, to the chagrin of his closest neighbors in the audience. Luckily for those of us in Dallas, a new musical group is working to ensure that such intimidating experiences are avoided.

Bridge the Gap Chamber Players is a chamber music ensemble comprised of Meadows students and alumni, and founded by Meadows Artist Certificate cellist Zachary Reeves. Reeves, who also serves as the organization’s artistic director, is assisted by Maura Bellmio and James Ryan Jillson, co-executive directors and fellow Meadows students. As the three explain it, Bridge the Gap Chamber Players ("BtG") is a great chance for chamber music, as well as classical music as a whole, to engage people in a way that is more relaxed and welcoming than Ross’s experience.

By considering the world of classical performance in a new light, the BtG personnel have created a unique concept for their upcoming concert series. "In jazz, there’s a certain element of accessibility," says Bellmio. "A lot of people want to stay away from classical music because they feel their opinion doesn’t matter." This is exactly the sentiment BtG hopes to change. The group is looking to alter the experience of chamber music by putting its own twist on the more traditional formats of classical concerts. Unexpected venues, more forgiving concert etiquette, and new and varied repertoire are just a few of the elements BtG hopes to use to encourage a new culture and generation of enthusiasts. 

One major aspect of the group's efforts revolves around the idea of an open dialogue between performers and audience members. "There’s a social element prevalent in every other genre of music, and it’s so much about that social element when you go to a live performance," says Jillson. "In classical music, it's a completely different vibe. The idea behind Bridge the Gap Chamber Players is to place equally great emphasis on high-quality performances and an involved social element of the experience." Musicians of BtG are willing to answer questions and engage in conversation at performances, something that would not be seen in a more traditional concert setting. "We don’t want to merely talk at an audience, but rather engage in a dialogue and encourage thought in a non-condescending way," said Reeves. "The organization’s aim is three-fold: to bridge the gap between audience members and musicians; between aspiring musical professionals and working musical professionals; and between eras and genres of classic music."

As BtG is in its earliest stages of existence, efforts are currently being made to fund the organization's initial phases of planning. For help, the group has turned to a fundraising website, "By using Kickstarter, we are able to put our vision online and open it up for others to back," explains Jillson. "We have a certain amount of time to raise our goal amount of $1,500, and if we reach that amount by the deadline, we keep the money raised. If we don’t, we get none of it." BtG's last day on Kickstarter is September 6.

Those interested in learning about, contacting, or donating to Bridge the Gap Chamber Players can visit the following websites:

Bridge the Gap Chamber Players Official Website 
Bridge the Gap Chamber Players Facebook Page
Bridge the Gap Chamber Players Kickstarter Page

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