Ask the average person in the street what they think of chamber music, and they’ll probably come back with the answer that it’s something that old (subtext: boring) people listen to. If you’d looked at the audience for the average chamber music concert ten years ago, you’d probably have been proved right. But times are changing, and it’s thanks in large part to the work of the Cavatina Chamber Music Trust. You might never have heard of it, or you might vaguely recall seeing its name or logo on concert posters or programmes scattered round Oxford, but it’s an organisation we should all know about.
Cavatina’s aim is simple: to bring chamber music to young people and young people to chamber music. Run by Pamela and Simon Majaro, who were both recently awarded MBEs for Services to Music, its activities range from organising music lessons and providing instruments to children from deprived areas, to supporting workshops run by world renowned ensembles or joint concerts between student and professional ensembles. Its ticket scheme, however, is what it is best known for – the trust allows concert venues all over the country, from the Holywell Music Rooms, or St Hilda’s Jacqueline du Pre to the Wigmore Hall in London, to offer free tickets at some of their concerts to concert goers aged between 8 and 26 years old. The scheme isn’t everywhere yet but we’re lucky at Oxford, as ever, to be at the forefront of the wave hitting the rest of the country – the Oxford Chamber Music Society and the Oxford Chamber Music Festival all offer free tickets to under 26s, and more recently the top student ensemble Oxford University Sinfonietta has also been supported by Cavatina.
You might go to chamber music concerts all the time – in which case, take advantage of hearing world-famous ensembles like the Wihan quartet for free. You might have been to one in the past and been put off by the outdated feel – in which case, try again and marvel at how things have changed. You might never have been to one – in which case, seize your opportunity. At the end of the day, these are free tickets to stunningly good concerts, and the start of something really special for performers and young audiences alike.