The crowd sipping cocktails and lounging on couches in the San Francisco Symphony’s cavernous rehearsal space may not know much about classical music, but that’s the point of SoundBox: to bring people into a casual, club-like setting and then catch them by surprise. With dramatic lighting, multiple stages and permission to post to Twitter or Instagram anytime, SoundBox is the symphony’s effort to create an alternative stage for their own music.
In a time when arts organizations are working to entice new and younger audiences, SoundBox is betting on a cocktail bar, video projections, state-of-the-art sound and a $25 ticket price. Still, the music is serious: pieces thus far have ranged from the angular sounds of Edgard Varèse’s Intégrales to Meredith Monk’s playful Panda Chant II. The four-month-old series also showcases new work by contemporary composers and gives symphony musicians an opportunity to strut different stuff.