Classic music in the living room?

Lovers of classical music usually have to buy tickets at concert venues to enjoy the symphonic sounds. But a unique endeavor will now bring quality classical music right to your living room - all for free. First made popular on the East Coast, Groupmuse is now finding its footing in the North Bay, led by Petaluman Dave Murphy.

“This is usually a big city event,” says Murphy. “But the idea is for them to bring chamber music to the masses.”

Entirely conducted online, allows users to sign up as a host for an upcoming concert; as a musician interested in playing; or as an attendee who just want to see the show. Hosts need only to provide a venue, because attendees bring their own drinks to enjoy and share. After a host offers up a date, musicians are booked for the show and then an invite is sent out to all local music lovers.

The entire event is free, however musicians do accept tips for their talents.

Developed in Boston by three friends freshly graduated from college, the concept spread to New York and Atlanta before landing in San Francisco earlier this year. Original creator Sam Bodkin sought to bring communities together by drawing them out from behind their computer screens and into one room together to enjoy live music. And according to both the creators and Murphy, a preexisting affinity for classical music isn’t a requirement.

“I’m so musically uneducated, but occasionally I get tired of listening to classic rock,” Murphy said. “My son is really into music and I’ve made an effort to get into rap or grunge but I just can’t.”

Curious about the concept after reading an article in the San Francisco Chronicle, Murphy attended his first Groupmuse event in a tiny San Francisco studio apartment. Packed with 20 people filling every spare surface in the room, five musicians played two 40-minute sets, and then spent the rest of the night mingling with the crowd.

Murphy said the only downside was the 40 minute drive back home to Petaluma. Eager to bring the event north, he signed up to host the first Groupmuse event of the North Bay.

“The problem is there’s not that many musicians who have signed up in the North Bay,” says Murphy.

He eventually called Charith Premawardhana, a San Franciscan cellist who he met at a previous Groupmuse event, who agreed to send over some musician friends including a husband and wife violin duo who both play for the Santa Rosa Symphony. The event was so successful, Murphy is planning to host another in October.

Also in attendance was co-founder of Groupmuse, Kyle Nichols-Schmolze, who has recently relocated to San Francisco to help promote the events around the Bay Area and with hopes of making the company profitable.

“Kind of by default I’m the rep for the North Bay,” says Murphy, who along with his son, has spent their own time and money creating flyers to get the word out in the North Bay. His first event was largely attended by his own friends, but he knows that half the fun of Groupmuse is meeting new people.

Murphy said he particularly enjoyed hanging out with the musicians late into the night after all the attendees had gone home. In addition to seeking more event hosts, he hopes that more musicians will sign on to share their talents.

“From my point of view it’s just fun to go to house parties, drink it up a little and meet new people,” says Murphy.

Those looking to host or attend a Groupmuse event can go to to sign up.

(Contact Kaitlin Zitelli at

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