Klassik Underground attempts to shake up your typical classical music performance

by

Contributing Writer

Roppongi isn’t the first place that jumps to mind when you’re looking to have a night out with Beethoven. A concert hall with plush velvet seats, women in pearls listening to Symphony No. 9 — that’s more of a Ginza thing.

But Tahlia Petrosian, a viola player for the Gewandhaus Orchestra based in Liepzig, Germany, is trying to change the way classical music concerts are perceived.

“It’s important that we offer new formats of classical music so that we can show we’re still relevant,” she says. “So that everybody can experience classical music in a way that they really want to.”

Last year, Petrosian launched Klassik Underground, a series of chamber music performances that took place in nightclubs and followed official concerts by the Gewandhaus Orchestra. Petrosian arranges for world-class soloists appearing with the orchestra to join the Klassik shows.

It’s the orchestral equivalent of seeing your favorite rock band play a stripped-down, acoustic set — smaller and more intimate. At a Klassik Underground show, though, the audience can grab drinks, move around and remark on the music without getting dirty looks from the next row.

Petrosian is bringing Klassik Underground out of Europe for the first time to perform at SuperDeluxe on Nov. 10 in between more traditional performances by the Gewandhaus Orchestra and the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Suntory Hall on Nov. 9 and 11.

Musicians from both orchestras will join the show at SuperDeluxe (a venue that’s known for its commitment to experimental styles of music) without a stage and alongside live-painter Akiko Nakayama. Massive screens will hang around the club so the audience can watch Nakayama paint in time to the music.

“We’re bringing together three different pairs of elements,” Petrosian says. “The first pair is bringing together musicians from the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Gewaldhaus Orchestra. The second is we’re bringing a music element and combining it with a visual element. And the third pairing is the pairing of cultures: European culture and Japanese modern art.”

Nakayama’s work, which she calls “Alive Painting,” combines fluid movements with vibrant colors.

“I really think it shows that classical music is in touch with what’s going on and that we can be successful in molding ourselves and combining ourselves with modern art forms,” Petrosian says.

Although Klassik Underground generally caters to a younger audience at home in Germany, Petrosian says the series targets anyone who wants to experience live classical music, but may not have the time for — or interest in — sitting through a long symphony concert in a more traditional setting.

By presenting the same music in a new format, she said anyone can connect with classical music — even those who may not want to sit still, put away their phones or ignore their emails for a few hours.

Petrosian says that she’s excited to bring her approach to orchestral music to Tokyo because she feels as if audiences in Japan really “revere” classical music.

“It’s not part of their tradition,” she says. “So it’s something you really feel when you perform there — that the audience really appreciates you bringing your culture to them.”

Klassik Underground takes place at SuperDeluxe in Roppongi on Nov. 10 (8:30 p.m. start; tickets cost ¥3,000 in advance). For more information, visit www.super-deluxe.com.