The ChamberLab concert series takes chamber music and drops it in venues where classical music was not the norm.


Local musician Chris Black played the role of a musical mad scientist when he created his ChamberLab concert series in 2012.

The goal was to take the chamber music model and turn it on its ear, by dropping it in venues where classical music was not the norm, such as local rock clubs and eateries.

The change of scenery would "allow people the ability to enjoy music that they wouldn't normally encounter on their own," said Black, who divides his time between performing and working at the Chicago Music Store downtown.

So far, the formula has been a rousing success.

The first ChamberLab concert, held at Club Congress last year, attracted nearly 40 people.

More than twice as many showed up to the last concert, held in February at Café Desta.

Black said he is capping sales for Saturday's anniversary celebration of the ChamberLab series at 140 tickets.

"We've been getting a really good response," he said.

The evening, which also will be at Café Desta, will feature between 11 and 16 musicians, playing original compositions with instruments ranging from the tuba to the accordion.

The material comes from the creative minds of local musicians, many without formal classical training, including the Rosano Brothers, Dante, Marco and Tony and local percussionist Benjamin DeGain.

Black said the pieces Saturday will be a "best of" compilation from works composed and performed throughout the year.

He will bring back his piece, "Cooper Must Die," a trio for the violin, cello and double bass, which tells the grisly story of a man who is losing his mind.

He'll also resurrect his three bassoon trio pieces, which take listeners through the three stages people go through when they forget why they walked into a room.

"It's a move from confusion to concentration to outright rage," Black said.

Black added that the best part about the series, which holds concerts every three months, is that it has attracted support from the local chamber music community.

"There is a big divide between the classical world and every other kind of music," Black said. "There tends to be no crossover, no overlap.

"This concert series is bringing in a really good mix."

Thanks to its popularity, the series will continue on after Saturday.

The next ChamberLab experience in August will feature trios playing pieces inspired by the artwork of local painter Joe Pagac.

The one after that will include a live scoring of a silent film.

Next spring, Black said the emphasis will be on brass and percussion in a show at the Rialto Theatre.

"Big things are coming," he said.

if you go

• What: ChamberLab anniversary show.

• When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

• Where: Café Desta, 758 S. Stone Ave.

• Admission: $10 in advance through or $15 at the door.

Contact reporter Gerald M. Gay at or 807-8430.