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David Porter's experiment paid off.

Last November, the violinist rounded up several of his Utah Symphony colleagues for a postconcert performance in the downtown Salt Lake City bar O'Shucks. That event and a subsequent one at the Red Door had lines going out the door to hear short pieces by composers like Steve Reich, Antonín Dvorák and Dmitri Shostakovich in a more relaxed setting than the orchestra's usual digs at Abravanel Hall.

"People were really listening," Porter reported. "They were still having a good time, having a drink, but they were engaged in the music. … It reinforced my opinion that classical music really resonates with people, especially if it's in an environment in which they're comfortable."

Now Porter is making MOTUS After Dark (MOTUS stands for Musicians of the Utah Symphony) a full-fledged series, with four events this season in Salt Lake City and Park City. The first is Friday at Under Current, with music of Nico Muhly, Mozart, Schubert, Paganini and other composers.

The music will be organized in sets, roughly 20 minutes long. "We tried to make the sets short enough to keep people engaged," said Porter.

He also hopes to reach listeners who might be put off by the usual trappings of instrumental music — going to a fancy concert hall, getting dressed up, sitting in silence for long stretches.

"People often don't realize they love classical music," said flutist Mercedes Smith. "When you give them an easy opportunity to listen in a comfortable, natural way like this, it makes it more accessible."

"Anything that gets us out in the community and gets us interacting with a different crowd than might be at Abravanel Hall is always good," added cellist Walter Haman.

Amy Eldredge, managing partner of Under Current, was among those who couldn't get into the last MOTUS gig. So when her friend Erin Svoboda, who plays clarinet in the Utah Symphony, suggested playing host to a MOTUS event, she agreed readily. The music might be a slight departure from the bar's usual lineup of jazz, bluegrass and folk, but Eldredge predicts it will be equally at home there. "The sound floats really nicely, and it's not too loud," she said. —

No jacket required

The Musicians of the Utah Symphony (MOTUS) are presenting four winter musical "nightlife" events at local bars and restaurants as part of the MOTUS After Dark Series.All events will begin at 9 p.m.; there is a cash-only cover charge of $10 for each show, payable at the door.

When and where • Friday, Under Current, 270 S. 300 East, Salt Lake City

When and where • Jan. 15, O'Shucks Pinebrook, 8178 Gorgoza Pines Road, Park City

When and where • March 11, Red Door, 57 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City

When and where • May 6, Finca, 327 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City

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