Sam Bodkin

Groupmuse founder Sam Bodkin '12CC, remembers the day he first fell in love with classical music. He was in a basement practice room of his best friend, a cellist.  The piece was Beethoven's Große Fugue, op. 133. He was 19 years old and his is life was forever changed. Within six months, he'd decided to devote his life to expanding the fan base for this venerable but flagging art form.  In fact, while at Columbia, he started a chamber music series, built around Music Hum.

Young people aren’t famous for loving classical music. When was the last time you saw an audience of millennials treating an orchestra and its conductor like rock stars? Yet industry surveys count many millennials who identify chamber music as a form of music they like. So why are the classical arts struggling to build younger audiences? 

Like many of the traditional arts business models, classical music suffers from two main problems: first, brilliant and incredibly hard-working artists struggle to make a living wage. Secondly, young audiences are bypassing the classics in favor of more easily-accessible music. They aren’t rejecting classical music; they just aren’t finding it easy to try.

To expand listenership Bodkin launched Groupmuse, a social network that directly connects classical musicians who may be between gigs with local private home owner so their community can generate its own concert house parties.  Bodkin calls these “Groupmuses”. 

To provide the talent, Sam sources local musicians who are between more traditional gigs. There are two types Groupmuse: one is candlelit, the other a bit more raucous.

In small and intimate settings, like say your living room, a Groupmuse quartet fills your home with friends, family and chamber music. This video shows how a performance of Poulen’s Oboe Sonata transformed an Upper West Side apartment into truly intimate setting. For the young ears in the room, this setting really got them hooked. “After all”, says Bodkin, “chamber music was written to be performed and appreciated up close.”

Despite the success of these Groupmuses, Bodkin boasts over 70 Groupmuses per month nationally, the best setting for music appreciation – especially for young audiences – isn’t always serene. So Bodkin also turns the notion of stuffy and polite orchestra performances on its head and has the audience on their feet. Check out this room full of students raving to a full-orchestral performance of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring.

What are you waiting for? Let’s get this party stared. Pick up the appetizers, a little beer and wine, call a few friends and organize a groupmuse today. Drop Sam a line at Sam@groupmuse.com to ask him how.