House concert series coming to Queens
by Michael Perlman
Mar 12, 2019 | 2334 views | 0 0 comments | 131 131 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Chopin Playing the Piano in Prince Radziwill‘s Salon, 1887 by Henryk Siemiradzki
Chopin Playing the Piano in Prince Radziwill‘s Salon, 1887 by Henryk Siemiradzki
Forest Hills resident Rene David Alkalay, owner of Red Pipe Café and Genesis Tree of Life Yoga & Wellness Center and a longtime guitarist, has been spending months developing an inaugural house concert series. It would offer a rare personalized experience for guests to hear virtuoso-quality musicians performing original compositions.

To an extent, house concerts mark the revival of music salons, where a salon historically referred to a small room for receptions in a house, where popular subjects explored during the Enlightenment included art, philosophy, science, and literature. In the 19th century, a music salon consisted of small gatherings of specific members of the elite, who would listen to musicians often performing short romantic compositions on piano. Among the masters was Frederic Chopin.

Raised in the era of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Alkalay would listen to Elvis Presley, Frankie Lymon, The Platters, and The Flamingos. In his twenties, he began playing guitar.

“I loved everyone I was hearing, and my passion for music never stopped,” he said. “In my thirties, I began to perform shows with groups.”

Alkalay was inspired by a countrywide movement of house concerts, which is on the rise.

“It offers an intimate setting, which does not have the formality or coldness of a stage,” he said. “It is very natural.

“When musicians travel, most of the time they are sitting in a motel room several days before or after their performance without much to do,” Alkalay continued. “To present the artists with the possibility of performing in someone’s living room or backyard and offer the intimacy of the experience, which can also earn them additional income, is really a beautiful opportunity. Music was always meant to be a communal experience on a very intimate level.”

Alkalay envisions settings the can accommodate anywhere from 20 to 80 guests.

“When someone opens their home, they will not be receiving the general public,” he explained. “We will invite family, friends, and guests who can contact us and be on a mailing list. We will screen all guests.”

The first concert is planned for a home in Floral Park in October. Admission will be $30 to compensate the musicians and cover food costs. It will consists of two 45-minute sets with a 20-minute intermission.

“The first performance will offer a mix of folk music and jazz,” Alkalay said, who hopes to put on a concert every two to three months.

Alkalay attended last month’s Folk Alliance International Conference in Montreal to network with artists who would be willing to perform.

“I met managers, agents, and musicians,” he said. “In five days I saw 60 acts. I selected six acts who I absolutely want to bring to New York when they are passing through on tour.

“The musicians love the idea of performing in someone’s living room or backyard,” Alkalay said. “The next step is to develop a strong following to provide an audience.”

To be added to the guest mailing list or to possibly host a concert, send an informative note to It should express one’s passion for music, how they learned about the opportunity, and contact information.

“House concerts will be an intimate experience that is awesome and ventures beyond waiting on long lines, sitting in uncomfortable seats, and being far from a stage needing binoculars.” Alkalay said. “You may be sitting five feet away from David Byrne.”
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