Hearing an ensemble perform
Beethoven’s Große Fuge, Op. 133,
in a neighbor’s basement was so
moving that Sam Bodkin pledged
to expand listenership of chamber
music. When he moved back home
to suburban Boston after graduating from Columbia University in
2012, he started Groupmuse and
began hosting local gatherings—
once a week at first, which soon
became eight or nine times a week.
The Groupmuse app brings live
chamber music to living rooms.
“Despite our many technologies,
there just aren’t enough opportunities to gather in the real world
around something meaningful and
sublime,” says Bodkin. Launched
in 12 cities, including New York,
Philadelphia, and Portland,
Oregon, the website and app help
music lovers find a concert, for a
$3 fee—or host one. At the host’s
home, tables are pushed aside, and
the show typically begins around
7: 30 p.m. Attendees pony up at
least $10 each, which goes to the
ensemble. For some events, Groupmuse guarantees at least $100 per
player; in 2018, musicians averaged
$155 each per event.
Groupmuse has organized about
4,000 shows. It also helps Carnegie
Hall and other institutions sell
tickets to undersold shows, and has
begun to host weekend retreats.
The three-person company, which
raised $240,000 from Kickstarter
and private investors, is now
becoming a cooperative that will
give equity to the musicians on its
Groupmuse Bringing chamber musıc out of the concert hall—and closer to us.