The nation’s record companies, always looking for an excuse to move product, have declared September to be Classical Music Month, and Chicago’s classical ensembles, always looking for new ticket buyers, are clambering aboard the bandwagon with a quartet of free performances. Drawing on the idea of the popular CD sampler, A Taste of Classical Music will offer a variety of musicians performing in different styles.

An outdoor concert in front of the James R. Thompson Center, scheduled for this Monday, appears to be the best bet: a brass quintet from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra will play highlights from Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg; an ensemble from the Lyric Opera Center for American Artists will sing a selection from Verdi’s La traviata; and violinist Rachel Barton and bass-baritone Richard Cowan (one of the stars in the Lyric’s production of Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra) will also perform. Channel Two news anchor Lauren Green will emcee and play music (she’s a classically trained pianist). Plan on a long lunch: the concert will run from 11:45 to 1:15 at 100 W. Randolph. If you can’t stay for the whole thing, you can hear it that evening at 8 on WFMT (98.7 FM).

Three more free concerts are planned: this Saturday members of the Southwest Symphony Orchestra and others will perform at Ford City Shopping Center, 7601 S. Cicero; next Sunday, September 24, will feature pianist Peter Saltzman and others at Lombard’s Yorktown Shopping Center; and on Friday, September 29, members of CUBE and the Rembrandt Chamber Players will perform in cooperation with the Mammoth Music & Record Mart at Skokie’s Old Orchard Shopping Center. All of these concerts will take place from noon to 4. For more information, call the Chicago Music Alliance at 987-9296.