Salon Classique presents chamber music in private homes and other special places that allow to create an intimate harmony between the musicians and the audience. Leading Bay Area musicians come together to perform masterworks and undiscovered jewels of chamber music. Founding director Karsten Windt offers introductions to the music with the background and stories to the program. Everyone can enjoy the music at its best while sipping on a glass of wine. The relaxed personal atmosphere facilitates the communication between the audience and the musicians.
Salon Classique is an affiliate of San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music. All donations are tax deductable.
From our audience...
I wanted to tell you what a wonderful time I had at the music performance. What a fantastic event! Beautiful music, interesting people, intimate atmosphere. Well done! J .D.
We attended a chamber music Valentine's Day concert last evening put on by our friend and master of the violin Karsten Windt; it was really wonderful. If you enjoy a salon type setting and first rate classical music I highly suggest you try to get tickets to the next concert. Karsten and his fellow musicians deliver incredible music in a truly intimate setting. This is chamber music at its very best. If you are unable to attend the next event, I suggest you sign up for future concerts via their website. Based on the groups performance last night, I would give Karsten and company a true standing ovation. Check them out... they won't disappoint. Mike
Dear Karsten, Yesterday afternoon was truly wonderful! Huge congratulations to you for such a successful first venture!! You've put together a great ensemble. Sally K.
Karsten,... good music, good friends and good food...wonderful. Michael B.
"The Sunday event was wonderful, we thought. We look forward to future concerts." B & S
I just want to thank you for having organized today's chamber music concert which was just lovely. All of you are excellent musicians, the program was great and the setting couldn't have been nicer... H .F.
Thanks for another great concert. The five of you play especially well together. N. B.
Dear Karsten, We want to thank you SO much for an incredible concert Sat. night. Your introduction to Shostakovich allowed us to appreciate his music in a way we never had before. Each of the musicians was superb, and being close enough to watch their interactions was an amazing experience. We cannot wait for your series next season. And thank you for the amazing venue. It was a privilege to be there, and to be there seeing the Bay through the windows over the musicians’ shoulders while listening to your music was indeed being in heaven. Looking forward to years of experiences with your wonderful presentations! Judy and Jerry Merrill
"Everyone said the program was outstanding and they were all so happy! The Schubert was sublime and the Beethoven was delightful. It was so good to hear you play". E.H.
I found your performance at our party INGENIOUS. This was the kick we needed for our event, I hardly ever saw such ovations. T.K.
I thought you did a wonderful job. Your musical introduction certainly help those guest who are less familiar with classical music, and yet it was not boring at all for those of us, who are experienced with classical concerts.
Dear Karsten, Thank you from the bottom of your hearts for the successful and wonderful evening at the Ritz. We were enchanted by your loving and professional way to reach the hearts and senses of your guests. The piece by Mendelssohn moved me to tears and reactivated the love for my own country that I believed I had lost. You are a master of what you do. Many thanks again for this special experience. C. & K. D.
Thanks very much, Karsten. You have developed a good fan base here. I thought your audience responded very well to music they had never heard. The four of you produced a wonderful concert with the usual high level of musicianship. Your introductory remarks were both helpful and fascinating. Thanks for bringing our little Center alive. G.C.
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Salon Classique is a fiscally sponsored affiliate of San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music (SFFCM), a non-profit organization dedicated to the service of chamber music in California.
Please consider supporting our music making to keep our chamber concerts live and intimate. Clicking on the button will guide you to the right page. Thank you.
Salon Classique was featured in San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music's online magazine upon a concert presented in collaboration with the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco:
Salon Classique presents chamber music masterworks and hidden gems in intimate settings. In this highlight, we hear from founder Karsten Windt about the beginnings of Salon Classique and what you can expect from the ensemble in this coming year.
1. Describe your music in ten words or fewer
Salon Classique offers intimate opportunities to absorb chamber music excellence.
2. Tell us how Salon Classique came about and what holds it together
Starting in 2006, Maestro Kent Nagano and pianist Mari Kodama invited me to be a presenter, narrator and violinist at Forest Hill Musical Days. (This small neighborhood festival brings together experienced chamber players from all over the world to perform a well-rehearsed repertoire in a private setting.) I found it to be a little piece of heaven, and it later provided the inspiration for Salon Classique.
As I found myself in San Francisco more frequently and became friends with other chamber musicians in the Bay Area, I realized how much I enjoyed bringing quality music to this community. I also wanted to do so throughout the year. Hence, Salon Classique was born. With that, I left behind the safety of a twenty-year-long first violin job with the Deutsche Symphony Berlin and my beloved chamber music group, the Akanthus Ensemble Berlin, to start a new life in California.
To accommodate last-minute scheduling dates and adequate rehearsals, a variety of musicians perform with Salon Classique. Some are members of the SF Symphony, the Opera or teach at the Conservatory, while others are independent musicians who play with several chamber groups and regional orchestras. For instance, the concert at the Legion of Honor will feature Dan Flanagan, concertmaster of Sacramento and Modesto Symphonies, and Jonah Kim from the SF Ballet Orchestra, who are both joining us for the first time. Liz Prior, principal violist of Marin Symphony, on the other hand, will play this concert as she did the very first one of the series. Since the programs and line-ups are always rotating, the format seems to inspire both the musicians and the audience.
The soul of Salon Classique, though, is our good chemistry, as we share the need for finding truth and common musical understanding in our performances. And the love for presenting music to an intimate audience outside the traditional concert hall.
3. What is in the works for Salon Classique in 2014?
It is my hope that Salon Classique will continue to grow and become more organized this year. While past concerts were planned randomly as the venues became available, we now aim to streamline and plan entire seasons ahead of time. We will continue to perform music in private homes throughout the Bay Area, but we are also reaching out to public or commercial spaces that offer the same intimacy. Performing in the beautiful Pearson Theatre at Meyer Sound in Berkeley was a first step in that direction.
Another area I hope to see growth is in fundraising and promotions. Coming from Germany, where public money is still available to maintain a vivid classical music scene, it was necessary to learn how concerts are financed in the US. And up until now, we have only needed to rely on word of mouth for attendance. Therefore, fundraising activities, a new website and administrative help are all on the short list, until we can present the next season's program.
As for the music itself, I hope to expand our repertoire. Having played a lot of Argentinian Tango in Berlin, I aim to include some in our classical programs. And with the digital world allowing greater access to more music, I am excited to search for undiscovered masterpieces, worthy of being presented to our local audience.
4. Any ideas on how to bring musical performance to the people? or ideas on how to engage new audiences through musical performance?
I often found myself sitting on stage of the Berlin Philharmonic Hall playing a concert and wondering how much of our musical language was really understood by the audience. Or were people there because it was expected they attend or did they just want an excuse to dress up? I began to feel the need to talk to my audience, to share what I love about a piece of music and explain what makes it special. That became an important part of my work with the Akanthus Ensemble Berlin, it brought me to San Francisco, and it became the core idea of Salon Classique.
We present our music along with stories about the composers and the pieces we chose, about our findings during the rehearsals, including amusing anecdotes, and we usually play a few examples before running the whole piece. This gives attendees a chance to learn, to laugh, to listen more carefully and enjoy the music more intensely, without feeling they must be experts.
Like a guide for an art exhibition, we try to approach the audience at their level, rather than expecting them to come to us prepared and with a printed program already digested. The intimacy of our venues helps us to connect and get to know each other. The audience can sip on a glass of wine and relax during a performance. We feel chamber music performances should be just that…not only concerts but also social experiences.