Music Australia News

The first crowdfunded classical music pub opens its doors

Gabriel Prokofiev, founder of Nonclassical club night. Credit: HL Jones
Graham Strahle
| January 18, 2016

Thinking beyond the traditional concert hall seems to be one of classical music’s principal challenges if it is to draw in new, particularly younger listeners. Alternative venues such as clubs, pubs, wine bars and the like come to mind as places where classically trained musicians could potentially reach a much wider spectrum of people to create new audiences.

It’s not a new idea of course. In the 1700s coffee-drinkers in Leipzig’s Café Zimmermann were treated to performances of concertos, secular cantatas and opera arias. However, just recently the first classical music pub in the Netherlands opened its doors – and what’s more, it was crowdfunded. The brainchild of two women proprietors Sanne van Buuren and Talitha Verheij, Utrecht’s Muzieklokaal claims to be “the first place where hospitality and classical music come together permanently”. The pair say their pub’s live performances are “short, surprising living room concerts which always start with a short introduction and are often carried out in collaboration with local musicians”.

Meanwhile a similarly fascinating business that has been in operation since 2003 in London is Nonclassical. Founded by Sergei Prokofiev’s grandson Gabriel Prokofiev, it presents amplified concerts of new classical music in pubs, rock venues and nightclubs around the city. DJs supply a contemporary ambience to the performances. This YouTube clip describes the concept in detail. Nonclassical has its own record label and has released albums by English composer Tansy Davies, Juice Vocal Ensemble, percussionist Joby Burgess and other artists.

One classical musician who has devoted his career to performing in clubs and pubs is US cellist and viola da gamba player Steuart Pincombe. He runs a website called Music in Familiar Spaces and travels across America giving solo recitals of Bach and other Baroque composers. He says traditional concert giving simply didn’t interest him: “I don’t like the lack of connection with an audience. I don’t want to just fill up a bunch of seats. I want to play for people, where they already are. That’s my whole approach in general”.

With its proud pub rock tradition, perhaps Australia could breed a whole new generation of classical pub musicians.


  1. Amy Bennett

    Hey! I run something similar in Australia, I’d be very interested to chat to the people who run this event if you happened to have any contact details. Cheers.

    1. Andy Sarkozy

      Hi Amy, Thanks for getting in touch – sorry about the delay in getting back to you! I’ve requested contact details from our writer Graham. Once I hear back, I’ll send them through!

  2. Marc wigan

    The shifts in the way that people listen to music mirror the shifts in taste for other areas: Philosophy in the Pub is extremely popular for example, perhaps the costs of classical concerts -like the costs of academic study in philosophy- are following similar disintermediation trends? Its a hypothesis worth investigating as it has many implications for classical music given the trends in formal concert attendance. The recent comeback for Opera in very high quality HD transmissions from top companies around the world in cinemas offers another direction worth thinking about. There is insufficient strategic intelligence, innovation and responsiveness in many of the areas touched by classical and early music. Another relevant issue is the Open Music paradigm, in response to overlay feral copyright legislation and criminalisation–Gee Thanks TPP/TTIP–leading to kickstarter initiatives to secure genuinely Open (CC0) music (see Goldberg variations which was done this way (see for this discussion in context)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Stay in the loop

Music Australia updates straight to your inbox

Follow Like
Quick Links


  • National clearing house for policy & development

  • Music Journal

    Features articles about the Music Industry Sector

  • Music Talks

    Series of seminars exploring music