The beauty of chamber music is that it is designed to be performed within a small space. This means that it can be presented almost anywhere, with some examples using the human voice as sole instrument and therefore doing away with the need to accommodate musical instruments entirely. In modern times, chamber music is accessible not only live but also through recordings ranging from vinyl to CD to digital. This has increased accessibility to this subtle and timeless musical style and opened it up to a whole new audience. Here we’ll look at some of the best ways to experience chamber music and where you can access it in today’s world.
Online music players have become the number one method for listening to music in recent years. With services like Spotify and 8tracks becoming available, playing music has developed into a fully customisable experience incorporating genres and artists from across the board. Radio has also moved online, with specialised DAB radio stations and websites like iPlayer Radio. All of this technological advancement makes less mainstream music more discoverable by modern audiences. Chamber music is seeing a surge in interest from people listening to it as a study aid, for mental stimulation or as relaxing background music. As well as making old favourites available to existing fans, the internet is connecting new fans with music that they didn’t even know existed.
For example, people who enjoy the cerebral challenges of online hobbies like MindGames or PokerStars casino may find that having chamber music on via an internet player helps them to concentrate. It’s been proven that certain types of music can stimulate different areas of the brain, and research suggests that classical music can increase brain power in logic-based pursuits. It can also help students when studying for an exam as it helps to process emotions productively and can make the mind more receptive to new information.
Listening at home is one thing, but nothing can beat a live performance. Especially as chamber music is by nature such an intimate affair, the audience for a concert can feel profoundly affected by the experience. As it is such a beloved genre across the globe, and one which many of the most accomplished composers have contributed to, the best way to see a good live show is to stay local. Wherever you are, there is guaranteed to be a chamber music concert lined up at the nearest city whether it be a local ensemble or a travelling international one.
There are several stand-out orchestras to look out for which regularly travel the world, performing chamber music pieces to eager audiences. In Europe, there is the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and the European Union Chamber Orchestra. The latter regularly attend international music festivals and are well known for giving opportunities to young and promising musicians. In the USA, there is the International Chamber Orchestra of America who create a modern take on classical chamber music. They incorporate visual and dramatic art and utilise new technology to create breathtaking live shows, attracting new fans to the music in the process.
Chamber Music Societies
Although perhaps sometimes an underappreciated discipline, chamber music has a core of loyal fans who are evangelical about spreading the word to other music lovers. Due to their love of the genre, there are many chamber music societies spread throughout the world. These organisations are dedicated to the celebration of the musical style and promotion of it to potential audiences. These are the people who host festivals and podcasts, write newsletters and magazines, and stage concerts.
The Belfast Music Society has been singing the praises of chamber music since 1921 and now hosts the annual International Festival of Chamber Music. This has grown to be a respected event with support from the Arts Council of Northern Island, the BBC and the prestigious Queen’s University. The event showcases local and international talent, reserving special opportunities for young artists and offering masterclasses for budding musicians to try. Across the pond, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Centre is big news as part of the largest performing arts complex in the world. Based in New York, the Society is dedicated to spreading the word about chamber music and supporting those musicians who perform it with skill and brilliance. Offering live performances in incredible venues, live streams and other media accessible online alongside physical recordings, this organisation is touching all bases with chamber music distribution.
Thus far, chamber music has survived through hundreds of years of history and several different reincarnations. It’s safe to say that this subtle, intimate style of composition and performance is not going anywhere any time soon and is sure to increase its fanbase as time goes on. Whether you can make it to a live concert or have to settle for listening at home for now, it’s well worth checking out some of the greats like Brahms’ Piano Trio No 1 and Cesar Franck’s Piano Quintet. You may just find a new favourite for falling asleep to, working at your desk to or simply relaxing with on the sofa at the end of a long day. Chamber music has that comforting quality that manages to gently stir up the emotions without unnecessary drama; a quality that has won it legions of fans across time and space.