There's a different music scene brewing at The Crux these days. Coffee, beer and wine flow at the bar while the music of Beethoven and Brahms fills the space.
Business is really good on classical nights, says Crux owner Bob Cooper.
"I'm just blown away by the turnout and it's such a different mix of people," he says.
Classical music as an art form can get lost in today's multi-genre, multi-format music scene. Yet, in Boise it has rediscovered its voice.
When classical is in the air, more than 300 people filter through The Crux. The musicians of the aptly named Classical Revolution: Boise - a group founded by the Boise Philharmonic's Lindsay Bohl, 32, and Lindsay Edwards, 29, - play an eclectic array of the chamber repertoire in string, brass and piano duos, trios, quartets and solos. You will even hear Beatles and Radiohead arranged for a gang of cellos from Boise Cello Collective.
"There's just so much interest and passion for the music in Boise," says Jake Saunders, 22, who founded the Cello Collective last year. "There's a lot of opportunity right now. Boise is an exciting place to be."
The roots of this classical-music revival connect through the ranks of the Boise Philharmonic and Boise Baroque Orchestra - which celebrates 10 years this month.
They also reach back to the founding of the Langroise Trio more than 20 years ago. That group performs regularly in more traditional settings. Its three members - Geoffrey Trabichoff, violin, Samuel Smith, cello, and David Johnson, viola - are influential teachers in the Treasure Valley.
"Langroise has always been part of a strong classical tradition here," Smith says. "I think we've reached a tipping point and now people who aren't part of the music scene in the area are becoming aware of it."
A turning point came five years ago when the Boise Philharmonic hired Robert Franz as its music director, says Edwards, who played with the orchestra for six years, commuting from San Francisco, until she moved here in 2011.
"When Robert and groups like (Trey McIntyre Project) arrived in Boise, it gave the arts a higher profile," she says.
As turnover happened in the orchestra, Franz hired a slew of young, ambitious musicians who now are taking ownership of their careers, he says.
"What they're doing is interesting, it's clever and it fills a niche that fits our community with this sort of eclectic, fun and casual music experience," Franz says. "I think it's super exciting that such a diverse classical community is developing."
One of Franz' hires was associate principal violist Bohl, who also grew up in Boise. When she and Edwards met, Classical Revolution: Boise happened.
"We saw a need in Boise to make classical music more accessible to people who don't know it already," Bohl says. "And also to fulfill our own desire to play chamber music with our friends."
Taking classical into new venues relaxes both the audience and the players, Bohl says.
"People can get intimidated," she says. "There are so many rules at a concert - like when to clap - and you dress a certain way. We have none of that."
Right now, Classical Revolution is a musician-driven, all-volunteer venture, but Bohl and Edwards will take the summer to plan the next step for the group - which probably means formalizing it into an official nonprofit, Edwards says.
Both Lindsays also gig with the opera orchestra, and Edwards also plays with Boise Baroque, a group that offers another outlet for local musicians.
BBO conductor Dan Stern - who came to Boise in 1974 as the philharmonic's music director - has seen an ebb and flow in Boise's classical scene during his time here.
"In my 40 years in Boise, I've seen a wide swing of the pendulum," Stern says. "I remember when the phil struggled with just seven cellists. Now there are great players in the community who aren't playing with the orchestra because they haven't had an opening in several years."
Another boost to the scene happened when Franz worked with Boise State University to create a graduate string quartet fellowship. That brought Saunders back home. He started busking on 8th Street with some cello-playing friends and eventually created the Collective.
"I realized that this was something to pursue when on one beautiful afternoon people came up to me and said that our performance was the highlight of their day," he says. "You never experience that on stage."
Since returning from the University of Michigan, his experiences over the past year have helped Saunders see his hometown anew.
"Before I left for college, I saw Boise as a place of departure. I thought I would leave and never come back," he says. "Now, I see it as a place of arrival, where musicians are coming because there's so much happening. It's making my decision about where to go next more difficult. Boise is going to be hard to give up."
The Cello Collective, a loose group of about 12 cellists, connects strongly through Langroise Trio. Many members were Smith's students when they were kids. When the trio was formed at College of Idaho in 1991, its members were charged with training young musicians who could play with the philharmonic.
Now that's happening.
Geoffrey Hill, the phil's principal second violinist, was a student of the phil's concertmaster and Langroise violinist Trabichoff.
Philharmonic and Baroque violist Jennifer Drake laughs a bit about all this new energy around classical music. For her, it's nothing new. When she moved here in the 1990s, she played with the phil and worked with Darkwood Consort, a classical group that did formal concerts and gigs at Neurolux.
Now with Darkwood disbanded, she produces three classical events in Boise. Her humor and witty approach make for fun, creative programming, such as "The Birds and the Bs" this weekend, part of her First Friday Chamber Series at First Congregational United Church of Christ in Boise.
The program features pieces inspired by birds - Haydn's "Lark" Quartet - and pieces by Beethoven and Barber.
At that concert, you'll hear Drake, Saunders, Edwards, Bohl and other musicians from the phil, Boise Baroque and BSU.
Drake also runs "Beethoven and Brews" at Payette Brewing Co. and a Classical Jam - an all-ages free-for-all at Buzz Coffee. Both bring a wide swath of players from the orchestras, the community and area schools. It's unrehearsed. Just bring your music, sit in and play.
"You never know what will happen," Drake says. "It's so relaxed. We can double up on parts, so you'll have a high school student next to a philharmonic player doing the same part. We had a guy on saxophone playing Beethoven."