Creative City Project and Timucua Arts present Re:Charge, an evening of socially distanced ambient sound this weekend

Re:Charge - Photo courtesy Creative City Project/Facebook
Photo courtesy Creative City Project/Facebook
The Timucua Arts Foundation and Creative City Project are teaming up to present live music in Orlando to an actual audience this weekend, but it's a far different experience than how we remember concerts and recitals.

Titled Re:Charge, the night combines live sound and a total immersion environment to inspire relaxation and some level of disengagement from the immediate moment for attendees.

Event organizers Cole NeSmith (Creative City) and Christopher Belt (Timucua) are creative and conscientious, putting equal thought into immersive lighting and a well-curated repertoire of ambient music as they do towards keeping the audience and the performers physically distanced and creating a safe environment as possible. "This is more of a meditative experience rather than a concert," stresses Belt. And the organizers don't even want you to cheer or clap between songs.

Taking over the spacious Harriett's Orlando Ballet Center, and in careful alignment with CDC guidelines on social distancing, the 72-strong audience will be kept over six feet apart from one another, with each attendee occupying an assigned 8’x8’ space on the floor to take in the music. No seats, no crowding together in groups. Masks, temperature checks and a generous dose of hand sanitizer will be required for those entrance.

Orlando Weekly talked with musical director Chris Belt earlier this week about the musical side of Re:Charge, the musicians, the ideas, and the repertoire for the evening:

How did Re:Charge come to be?
Cole NeSmith and I have worked together several times over the years, so I was excited when he called me about this event. It was a very nascent idea at that point, but Cole knew what he wanted the audience to experience, which is a sense of comfort, relaxation and – like the title says – feeling recharged. He knew he wanted the music to be peaceful, so immediately Arvo Pärt’s Spiegel im Spiegel came to mind, and we knew there would be a social distancing component, so I thought of the spatialized, open-instrumentation works of Jordan Nobles. From there, I started hiring the musicians and getting their input – what pieces in their existing repertoire would fit the theme of the event?

The final program and the arc of it is very different from a classical music program. In general, classical programs have a teleological aspect, with the meaning or the final takeaway of the piece coming as the result of thematic development, contrasts, drama and resolution. Most of the pieces on this program eschew that completely. For instance, Nobles’ music is driven by choices the musicians make about how and when they play specific material. There is no thematic development because the piece is never played the same way twice. Or in Duet for Heart and Breath (and Spiegel im Spiegel), the musical ideas are repeated in order to create structure, but the mood or meaning of the piece is on the surface. Nothing is revealed, the music simply is. And it’s beautiful.

Creative City Project and Timucua Arts present Re:Charge, an evening of socially distanced ambient sound this weekend
Photo by Matthew Moyer

Who are the musicians taking part in this?
I hand-picked each musician based on what I know they bring to their art. Gerald Law II is the most dependable and positive musician I know, so I knew I would hire him even though he is most frequently seen behind the drum set. He will be using drum pads and triggers to control sampled mallet percussion and electronic sounds. Sam Desmet is one of the finest classical guitarists in the state and performs internationally. He has a beautiful and sensitive sound that is perfect for what we are doing. I have worked with Brandon Miller (Answers), Natalie Grata (Alterity) and Katie Mess many times on the kind of spatialized music we will be performing. Joseph Jevanni Billups is an exceptional composer, pianist, improviser and gospel artist. Amy Xaychaleune and Yamilet Trujillo are versatile professional string players (violin and cello respectively), performing classical, pop and rock.

Tell me about putting the musical program together for the evening.
The repertoire blends spatialized music by Jordan Nobles – and one piece by me – with solos and duets collaboratively chosen by myself and the musicians. In the spatialized pieces, the musicians will be on the perimeter of the venue playing inward to the audience. The solos and duos will be in the middle of a large open space at the center of the audience, mirroring the pulsation of heart and breath. Not coincidentally, Duet for Heart and Breath by Richard Reed Parry is on the program. The two musicians wear stethoscopes and play in time with their heartbeats.

What do you want attendees to take away from this experience?
I hope people will leave relaxed, energized and inspired. It’s been agonizing to be away from live music, and away from people. I hope this will be a way of showing how we can be mindful, respect each other, and how live music can enhance our environment and our mood without being part of a traditional concert.


Re:Charge takes place on Saturday, July 18, at 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. At Harriett's Orlando Ballet Centre. The 9:30 show is sold out but a few tickets remain for the 7:30 performance. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own mat or pillow to rest on.

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