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Not Your Every-Day Classical Music

Classical Jam Brings Innovation to the Traditional Classical Format

By Mikhail Talley

Normally, when you think of a “jam band” the last thing that would typically come to mind would be a group of classically trained musicians from the likes of Julliard and the Manhattan School of Music. Classical Jam (CJ), however, is not your typical jam band, nor are they your typical classically trained musicians.

Classical Jam is a group composed of five musicians whose purpose is to present engaging, lively and high caliber performances to diverse audiences. Most importantly, however, they set out to build a lasting connection between audiences and classical music. The quintet, comprised of Jennifer Choi, violin; Cyrus Beroukhim, viola; Wendy Law, cello; Marco Granados, flute; and Justin Hines, percussion, met over a decade ago as conservatory students who shared a similar vision of bringing classical music to audiences who found difficulty in identifying and connecting with the art form.

“I was just sick and tired of people telling me that classical music is dying and I thought there must be a way of trying to engage people in new ways,” says Law. “It’s through how we program the music. So we thought, we can compose the music ourselves, we can choose different genres of music but all under the big umbrella of classical music.”

So CJ set out with this vision, providing performances that don’t just end at the ever-rehearsed classic pieces, but also include exciting improvisations and remarkable original pieces for which they have become known.

“One of the things about Classical Jam is we’re trying to push ourselves to redefine what ‘classical’ improvisation is,” says Granados. “So we’re not jazzers but we keep on trying to find out what that means.”

Another huge piece in the Classical Jam mission is education and community advocacy, which they try to integrate as often as possible within their performances. This may include leading the crowd in singing a popular theme or playing a piece of percussion. The main goal, however, remains in maintaining a sense of engagement with the music and the audience.

Classical Jam’s April 4 performance at CSU’s University Center for the Arts, entitled ‘From the Street to the Concert Hall,’ explores how composers throughout history have used their individual heritages and the pop culture around them at that time in their compositions. During their time, they will also spend time in residency with CSU music students holding master classes and lectures as a part of their mission of community outreach and education.

Don’t miss Classical Jam’s concert as part of the Classical Convergence Series on Saturday, April 4 at 7:30 p.m. in the Griffin Concert Hall at the University Center for the Arts at 1400 Remington St. – a show that is sure to be remembered.

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Classical Jam Residency Schedule:

Open Master Classes
Friday, April 3, 4 – 6 p.m. Organ Recital Hall, UCA
FREE and open to public observation


LEAP Lecture: Creating a Chamber Ensemble
Friday, April 3, 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. Organ Recital Hall, UCA
FREE and open to the public


Improvisation Lecture
Saturday, April 4, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. Organ Recital Hall, UCA
FREE and open to public observation