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Fruit Flies Like a Banana: Rethinking How We Teach Audiences About Music Through Vaudeville

by Brittni McDonald


The Fourth Wall chamber group demonstrated how fun and accessible classical music can be in its “neo-vaudeville” lecture-performance. The group members’ goal, as they put it, was “creating an atmosphere where audience members find enjoyment no matter their experience level with the genre.” 

I wasn’t really sure what to expect walking into a neo-vaudeville show; but it was fast paced, interactive, and engaging, to say the least. The trio involved the audience in a variety of ways, such as determining the program order by wild-card draw and even playing with balloons! The performance caliber was also top notch, especially considering that almost constant acrobatics were being performed. Hilary Abigana performed 10 variations on Paganini’s “Caprice No. 24,” all in different acrobatic positions, many of which were upside-down. 

This variety show truly did bring back the spirit of vaudeville and succeeded in making classical music accessible to everyday people.