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Classical Meets Community

The Crown Point neighbourhood, an area whose boundaries extend to Gage Avenue, Burlington Street, Kenilworth Avenue and Lawrence Road, is, as Raise the Hammer’s Ryan McGreal put it in 2009 “like the city in microcosm: an interesting, challenging, and hopeful mix of vibrancy, poverty, incremental progress, optimism, frustration and potential.”

In addition to a high density of industrial development in the northern end, Crown Point’s community assets include Gage Park, Centre on Barton, Kiwanis Boys and Girls Club, YWCA on Ottawa Street and the Ottawa Street shopping district.

But it’s not necessarily the type of neighbourhood one might associate with orchestral music. Crown Point is a neighbourhood where passionate and engaged citizens are coming together to make their community a better place. That’s why the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra is choosing this up-and-coming neighbourhood as the site of its Nov. 10 gallery series performance as the HPO launches this neighbourhood-spanning program.

Now in its second year, the gallery series presents free 60-minute concerts featuring chamber music — a form of classical music composed for a small group of instruments.

Each concert takes place in local, contemporary art galleries and this season performances extend beyond the downtown core to Hamil- ton’s East End, and neighbouring Burlington and Dundas communities.

This is another example of community groups leveraging strengths in order to reach more people through great art. As our city continues its enthusiasm for the visual arts and acts a hub for working artists to live, create and play, it only makes sense for Hamilton’s professional symphony to work with the great com- munity assets that exist and embrace the city’s diverse neighbourhoods.

Sometimes people associate “classical” music with very inaccessible experiences — people think they need to dress up or know all about the music ahead of time or that it’s only for rich people. The gallery series removes some of these barriers by offering these con- certs free of charge, and creating concert formats in digestible 60-minute chunks so that even the busiest young professional or dad-of- three can attend, enjoy and recharge.

This sentiment surrounding accessibility echoes with the Crown Point community planning team’s mission of creating a “barrier-free environment where all residents are encour- aged to grow to their full potential.”

All of this happens in the beautiful setting of Earls Court Gallery in the buzzing Ottawa Street shopping district. “Earls Court Gallery is now entering its sixth year on Ottawa Street, and we’re thrilled to host HPO’s Woodwind Trio on Nov. 10,” said Robert Daniels, owner of Earls Court Gallery. “The performance will give local residents the opportunity to experience the beauty of chamber music in our main gallery space, where the fantastical art of Marcelo Suaznabar, among others, will be on display.” The HPO Wind Trio will perform amongst the fantastical and surrealistic works as part of the Playing Strange exhibit, connect- ing these two great art forms in the Sherman Hub/Crown Point communities.

Hamiltonians want to connect with the community and meet the artists and community leaders who help make this city great. That’s an important aspect of the gallery series — guests can stick around for a glass of wine after the concert and meet the musicians, talk to them about the music and get to know the artists who contribute to their community.

Each performance is hosted by HPO Composer-in-Residence Abigail Richardson- Schulte who provides context for each musi- cal selection on the program. Additionally, the curator of each gallery shares information about the current exhibition in the space.

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