One of the most exciting developments to me over the last few years at Rush Hour has been watching the size of the under-40 demographic in our weekly audience grow to 20%. Anyone in the classical music world knows this is an impressive figure. To me, it’s inspiring. And the source of that inspiration is Rush Hour’s Fanfare, a group that started small and has grown to over forty members in the last year. Fanfare is Rush Hour’s herald, trumpeting news of Rush Hour’s “great music for busy lives” across the city each summer and throughout the off-season.

What does a typical Fanfare member look like?
– Culturally curious
– Between the ages of 20 and 40
– Doesn’t have a lot of time but wants to make a difference
– Relishes Chicago’s city life (especially in the summer!)

In my career as a performing artist over the last four decades, I have seen audience demographics buffeted about on the tides of social change, educational atrophy, and the competition of universal access to music that is not live. I have campaigned vigorously over the last two decades on behalf of the relevance of great music in all of our lives. I’ve continually refuted the myths that wearing a powdered wig or belonging to some sort of elite club are required for connection to this music to happen, maintaining that all anyone needs are their humanity and ears as entry points. For years, I have watched young adults being thrown into the center of this sociological conversation.

Imagine how heartening it is for me, then, to see emerging from Rush Hour’s accessible, practical concert format, a group of young professionals who not only promote the mission of Rush Hour and support its admission-free policy financially, but are also paving the way for the future of this series a decade from now. Fanfare is truly a herald: a sign that something is about to happen, ushering in a new paradigm of concertgoing and arts philanthropy.

Rush Hour’s 10th anniversary season starts June 2. Expect big things from Fanfare. They will be the group to watch. They have certainly played a major role in bringing their age demographic to the uplifting, energizing experience of live, great classical music, which is Rush Hour’s hallmark. They inspire my work as its artistic director, and, for that, they have my gratitude.

Bravo, Fanfare!

– Deborah Sobol
Artistic Director

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