New student org Concert Hub makes classical music accessible in first onstage performance


Photo by Jay Towns, courtesy of Concert Hub

Concert Hub’s student team, from left to right: Sahibzada Mayed, Alex Carroll, Natasha von Bartheld, Molly van Gorp, Sharon Lin.

Claire O’Shaughnessy, Reporter

Ever gone to a concert in sweatpants? If not, here’s your chance.

Concert Hub, a new student-led performance series, will host its inaugural concert in The Garage Thursday. The event will feature classical and jazz musicians from Northwestern and Chicago performing a setlist that crosses genres.

Concert Hub founder and Bienen senior Natasha von Bartheld said she has wondered for years why there were so few young people at classical music performances. She said one reason is that classical music settings can feel overly formal and esoteric.

“Our mission is to make classical and jazz music more accessible to people who are not concert goers,” Bartheld said.

Concert Hub seeks to create a welcoming environment for listeners across all levels of music knowledge.

There is no dress code, no secret social expectations and no feelings of audience inadequacy. Bartheld said you can even get up and dance.

In Thursday’s concert, Bienen sophomore Emma Truong will be featured on piano. She said she’s envisioned something like Concert Hub for a long time.

“I’ve always wanted to have this sort of retreat for musicians and also for the audience to listen to music without any judgment, and without any underlying fear or expectations at all,” Truong said.

McCormick sophomore Alicia Hartono will sing alongside Truong in French, German, Vietnamese and Indonesian. She said she’s brought friends to other classical performances, but the stifling atmosphere can alienate inexperienced concert-goers. Hartono said Concert Hub will be a more accessible way for students to approach classical music.

Ben Zucker, a fifth-year music composition and technology graduate student, will perform Thursday on vibraphone with local jazz musicians.

Similarly to classical music, Zucker said jazz performances in academic settings often operate under constricting expectations. For Concert Hub, Zucker said they want to honor jazz’s dynamic nature.

“There’s absolutely a way to bring people in as part of playing this music,” Zucker said. “Across genres, that is an element of music making.”

For Thursday’s event, Concert Hub organizers will adapt The Cafe into a cozy concert venue, Bartheld said. Concert Hub will host an afterparty with refreshments, Bartheld said, and the organization’s goal is to dissolve the barriers between performers and audience members. She said connection is the group’s main priority.

“It’s about community,” Bartheld said. “We can really take that further than traditional concerts do.”

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Twitter: @claireosh

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