Classical Cocktails with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic

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It is an ongoing challenge for arts organizations raise funds and grow a committed following of supporters to not only attend exhibitions and donate today, but who also will assure the organization’s future. This is especially true for some older organizations which are viewed as too conservative or too formal for a younger generation.

But all artists are innovators, and these groups are responding to that call. For the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, efforts to attract a younger audience — one who will see the value of the orchestra and support it going forward — have led to a new program called Music + Mixology.

To lure new patrons through the popularity of wine and cocktail tastings, the program was suggested by one of the newer – and not coincidentally younger – artists at the Phil.

“I had heard from colleagues all around the country and knew about a similar program in Portland, Maine called Symphony and Spirits,” said Caleb Young, assistant conductor of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic. Young reached out to the administration and board of directors for the philharmonic and quickly received backing for his plan.

Upon his arrival in Fort Wayne last fall for his first season with the orchestra, Young had found Wine Down, a chic and popular bar which has developed a following of its own as part of the new downtown landscape. Young quickly realized Wine Down would offer a great location to collaborate on the new venture. The first Music + Mixology took place in November and featured the music of Brahms and Rachmaninoff.

“It’s really the perfect place,” said Young. “People can meet there, have a few drinks, then just walk a few steps to the Embassy Theatre for the performance.”

Young is grateful for the Philharmonic’s willingness to try new ways to entice a wider audience. “There’s a stigma about the symphony,” said Young. “People think they have to rent a tux or get their hair done. There’s a stuffy reputation about it, when the truth couldn’t be more the opposite. I’m looking forward to making new friends and introducing people who have never heard classical music to a new lifelong joy.”

Future Music + Mixology events include the Leningrad Symphony on April 28. $25 (includes ticket to the performance and one drink at Wine Down, 301 W. Jefferson Boulevard, 260.755.1019, winedownfw.com), Fort Wayne Philharmonic, 260.481.0770, fwphil.org 

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