In this series, WeWork’s director of digital community selects a WeWork member to get to know better, sharing her fun findings with the rest of the community.
What’s Andrew Goldstein’s main goal? “Making classical music less stuffy” for the Seattle community. Since I love classical music, seeing it break out in new ways sounds very exciting. I reached out to the Emerald City Music executive director and WeWork South Lake Union member to learn more about the nonprofit, venues in Seattle, and unexpected classical/pop combinations.
How did you get inspired to start Emerald City Music?
I grew up in a musical family. My grandfather worked in the record industry, and my childhood was filled with photos of him smoking cigars with Mick Jagger, hanging out with Frank Sinatra, etc. I was so enamored by that lifestyle! So I went to school for music management, thinking I’d land a job with a record label and work with those types of artists.
While I was in school, I took an internship at the Waterbury Symphony Orchestra, and was immediately taken away by classical music. I thought the orchestra was so bold and exciting. Yet despite how awesome the music was, I knew that the audience for classical music was getting smaller and smaller every year. I kept finding myself disappointed that more people weren’t experiencing that awesome music.
I felt inspired to learn everything I could about what made classical music so exciting, and how I could bring more of it to millennials like myself. I took jobs on Broadway, at opera companies, and I eventually discovered an organization called Music@Menlo: a summer chamber music festival in the California Bay Area.
On a hot summer evening, I was there, sitting and listening to a string quartet play in an intimate church, and I finally figured out what made classical music so exciting to me. For one, the music has so much depth to it. You can’t take it at face value, and each piece of music has its own fascinating story and history behind it. I also realized that our culture has turned classical music into something you “should relax to,” but 99.9 percent of classical music is meant to inspire so many other exciting, passionate, enthralling emotions. And finally, I realized that, above all, Music@Menlo was so special because it was a community, where people came together to build friendships around this great music.
I realized that this was the kind of thing that people my age could really attach to: a community for everyone who loves music to discover more music. So I’ve taken this on as my life’s work.
I first worked with the renowned cellist David Finckel and pianist Wu Han, artistic directors of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York. My job was putting on music festivals in California and Seoul, Korea. (I ran a record label with them too.) I learned that for people to discover classical music, you have to build it into their community, and not just put on concerts and expect them to come and fall in love with the music.
And that was actually a really striking thing for me to learn. So much of the performing arts industry just throws on concerts and expects that people will just come. But every successful project starts with people. Rather than saying “This is great art, and you need it,” we’re saying, “The community here is incredible, and we want to share something amazing with you.”
So with that in mind, I peeled off on my own to work on bringing classical music to my generation. In 2014, alongside the amazing violinist Kristin Lee, we co-founded Emerald City Music.
With a little research, we learned that a lot of millennials won’t go to a concert hall, either because it’s inconvenient or too stuffy. So we moved our concerts into a Seattle coffee shop, removing the “stuffiness” of the experience by putting on late-night shows with drink-in-hand. The musicians perform the best of classical music alongside unique things like percussion music and newly composed music like Connesson’s “Techno Parade.”
Who are some of your favorite composers, and what are some of your favorite pieces?
I really like newly composed music. One of my favorites is the New York-based composer Andy Akiho. He writes music that combines your typical classical instruments with percussion (often steel pan or marimba), completely reinventing what people most often think “classical music” is. His “NO one To kNOW one” is really cool for anyone looking to delve into newly composed music.
Another all-time favorite of mine is Dmitri Shostakovich. He has one of the most fascinating stories—most of his music was composed during the reign of communist dictator Joseph Stalin. It’s a brilliant story, because his music is so vibrant, exciting, and bold, but he camouflages things in the music that hints at his severe distress, composing just to stay alive. To listen to Shostakovich’s music and hear both perspectives is one of the most compelling experiences.
Favorite spot near WeWork South Lake Union?
Yeah! I actually love the place where Emerald City Music is having our Seattle concerts. It’s called Kakao Coffee. I think it’s one of the coolest little Seattle coffee shops. It’s pretty new and contemporary, and they have really created an environment that’s so casual and so Seattle. And they make a really good cup of coffee, which is a must-have when you work in the startup world.
Photos: Ana Raab