Meet Emma Rose Lynn, the driver of Groupmuse events in Seattle. Groupmuse, a national group, uses the Web to link classical-music lovers with like-minded people, all while listening to good music in a relaxed setting.
Attention novelists and screenwriters seeking that fresh angle on millennial manners: you could do worse than set a story within the construct of Groupmuse society.
While you’re at it, base one of your major characters on Emma Rose Lynn, the eloquent and charming 24-year old soprano who is Seattle Groupmuse’s regional coordinator.
Founded in Boston, where the first Groupmuse event — a house party featuring a live concert by classical musicians — took place in January 2013, the organization serves two contemporary purposes.
One is to create a new way to meet, socialize and visit again with other people in one’s city — not always an easy thing to do in busy, demanding times where personal networks are often built online. The other benefit is low-key, inexpensive and simple access to classical music in a comfortable space.
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We’re not talking background music behind clinking glasses. Groupmuse organizes concerts in a private home (or any space of any size). The performance might involve a recital or small chamber group, enlisting area musicians who are paid by guest contributions.
“Musicians can bid on events,” says Lynn. “Depending on the size of the group or the host’s requests, I’ll assign what I think are the appropriate musicians.”
Anyone in Seattle who wants to host a Groupmuse party need only visit the website (groupmuse.com) and set it up at no cost. Once the event is approved and players chosen, Lynn posts the party on the site, where anyone can sign up to attend.
Addresses are not posted and are only given to approved guests, and hosts can filter out anyone who strikes them as unsafe.
The more parties a music lover attends, the greater the dividends.
“It really becomes its own social network,” Lynn says. “If you go to Groupmuses all over Seattle, you end up seeing the same group of people with similar interests.”
Groupmuse was founded by Sam Bodkin, whose enthusiasm for informal house gatherings of New England Conservatory students inspired him to create Groupmuse.
Around that time, Lynn, a native of the Pacific Northwest, graduated from Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minn., where she studied classical voice.
“I would do a lot of concerts at my house,” she says. “I’d invite a bunch of classical musician friends over. So when I moved to Seattle, I needed a way to meet people, and a friend told me there’s this thing called Groupmuse. I looked it up and thought, oh my gosh, I think I found my life’s purpose.”
Bodkin put her in touch with other interested parties, and the Seattle chapter was born. The first local event took place in June 2014, and there have been more than 40 since.
While Groupmuse is open to all, Lynn, who will pursue a master’s degree in music this fall, admits the organization “at its core” appeals to millennials used to personal, customized cultural experiences, e.g., on devices. The social aspect of Groupmuse might, in some ways, be an update on classic cocktail parties, but the choice of domestic venue over concert hall ritual is intentional.
“What has been so difficult for the music establishment to understand is how impenetrable it can seem to millennials to go to concert halls, learn the customs, learn not to clap between movements and wear concert attire. As much as arts organizations are bringing down some of those barriers and stereotypes, Groupmuse says, ‘we’ll meet you, we’ll bring classical music to your home.’
“And that is appealing. Great music should be a part of daily life.”