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Le Salon de Musiques looks to make classical music ‘more accessible’ to new audiences

Le Salon de Musiques founder Francois Chouchan will start the second season of the chamber concert series Oct. 9 in La Jolla.
Le Salon de Musiques founder Francois Chouchan will start the second season of the chamber concert series Sunday, Oct. 9, at the La Jolla Woman’s Club.
(Hojoon Kim Images)

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“We cannot let classical music die,” says Le Salon de Musiques founder Francois Chouchan. So as he looks to draw new audiences and present chamber concerts in a different way to help keep the classics alive, Chouchan will bring his intimate concert series back to the La Jolla Woman’s Club for its second season starting Sunday, Oct. 9.

“Classical music is in danger and can die if we just play it the way we have for decades,” Chouchan said. “We need to make classical music more accessible. We need to attract people in a different way. They need to feel welcome and comfortable with the classical music world, which is not the case most of the time.”

Le Salon de Musiques’ concept is different from any other chamber music series, he said. During the nine monthly performances, audiences sit around the musicians.

“You will feel the vibration of the instruments, will see the interaction between the performers and feel the essence of chamber music,” Chouchan said. The performers are elevated on a platform so they can be seen from every seat, but they are not on a stage.

Performances are preceded by a talk from musicologist Nuvi Mehta about the history of the pieces or composers and are followed by a question-and-answer session with the artists and a buffet of French cuisine and champagne. During the post-concert social hour, guests are encouraged to talk to the artists and one another.

“It’s a complete event,” Chouchan said. “The concept is to bring all kinds of people together, some with knowledge of classical music and some without, and sit close to the musicians and spend an afternoon meeting new people and the musicians and getting a new idea of what chamber music and classical music is.”

He said that approach — originally crafted by Marie Antoinette in 18th-century France — “is how classical music should be performed,” with “intimacy, friendship, everything that can bring beauty and emotions to people. We live in a crazy and dangerous world, and music can bring joy and beautiful things to people. Even if you don’t have a musical background, you can open your ears and heart and let the performers share this gift with you.”

Along with featuring the music of well-known composers, Chouchan said the goal is to “reintroduce forgotten composers” and the pieces they created. “This is also a big part of who we are. It gives these composers a second chance to be acclaimed again. They are so talented and the pieces are so beautiful that they deserve to be played again.”

Le Salon de Musiques schedule

All concerts are at 4 p.m. Sundays at the La Jolla Woman’s Club, 7791 Draper Ave. Tickets are $45 for students and $95 for adults. Discounts are available for those who buy tickets for multiple concerts. To learn more or purchase tickets, visit lesalondemusiques.com.

• Oct. 9: Music by Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven

• Nov. 13: Music by Beethoven and Schubert

• Dec. 11: Music by Weber, Puccini and Brahms

• Jan. 8: Music by Schubert

• Feb. 5: Music by Schumann, Scharwenka and Chopin

• March 5: Music by Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff and Juon

• April 16: Music by Handel, Onslow and Mozart

• May 21: Music by Felix Mendelssohn, Mahler and Kahn

• June 25: Music by Fanny Mendelssohn, Maier and Pejacevic

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