Columbus native Jeffrey Myers returns to the fifth annual, boundary-breaking VIVO Music Festival with his NYC-based Calidore String Quartet in tow

Violinist Jeffrey Myers travels the world with his Calidore String Quartet, but in all those journeys, he has never come across a music festival that resembles VIVO, now in its fifth year.

“I don’t think we’ve been a part of anything quite like the Beer and Beethoven concert — an informal concert where musicians get to relax and play great music, and everyone gets to let their hair down,” Myers said of the brewery gig happening at Seventh Son the evening of Wednesday, Aug. 28. “And five years — that’s a very short amount of time for the fest to grow to this size and level. The reach it has in Columbus is impressive.”

Myers grew up in Columbus and went to high school with VIVO artistic director Siwoo Kim, and he’s known co-artistic director John Stulz since middle school. “Growing up with them and following our music lives together is a really special thing, and to get to come back to Columbus and participate in their festival is a real honor,” said Myers, who has participated in four out of the five VIVO festivals, though this year is his first with the Calidore String Quartet in tow.

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VIVO’s core concerts kick off with Beer & Beethoven at Seventh Son, followed by other shows through Sunday, along with the Lunch Bachs series, which brings classical music into even more nontraditional settings.

“We just did one of the Lunch Bachs at the Goodwill in Grandview. That’s a really special thing to get to do, and an important thing to have that outreach component to the festival,” Myers said. "The audience was extremely appreciative."

Presenting classical music in approachable spaces also helps to break down associations people may have with classical music.

“The way it’s portrayed throughout society is this hoity-toity, only-the-elite-listen-to-classical-music kind of thing,” Myers said. “But these people who wrote this music were humans just like us, which is what makes it so special for me, that here we are a couple hundred years later, and those composer’s human emotions are the same ones that we have today. … To break down the barriers, it’s not so complicated. To have people exposed to it, that’s all it really takes. Beer and Beethoven is just getting people to listen to it and say, ‘Hey, this is kind of cool. Maybe I should check more of it out.’”

VIVO’s audience tends to trend younger than most classical events, Myers said, but the festival is reaching out to listeners across the age spectrum with its residency at Westminster Thurber, a senior living center. “All of the rehearsals, all the practicing that takes place, is open to the residents there,” Myers said. “They get to see our process of how we get to a concert-ready state. That’s another thing I have not seen at festivals. It’s like an outreach event built into what has to happen anyway.”

In April, the Calidore String Quartet stopped by NPR headquarters for a Tiny Desk concert. Watch below for a taste of what Vivo-goers have in store this week.