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BENOIT GLAZER, FOUNDER, TIMUCUA ARTS FOUNDATIONWhen we say the phrase "house show," a stereotypical set of images might come to mind: unpredictable sound system, cramped conditions, weird bathroom situation, free-and-easy approach to set times. The Timucua Arts Foundation house explodes all of these conventions. And you have jack-of-all-trades musician, designer and organizer Benoit Glazer and his family to thank for that.
Seeing a concert at the Timucua is a unique experience, and one with brain-breaking contrasts: In the cramped entry room, you find a potluck spread of free food and drink. But that leads into a purpose-built 100-seat concert hall with a vaulted wooden ceiling, several levels of viewing and impeccable acoustics. Hometown favorites perform some nights, as do legends like Zeena Parkins, Hans-Joachim Roedelius and taciturn free-jazz icon Peter Brötzmann – "He smiled at the show!" exults Glazer – and the whole operation is so tightly run, it's a shock to remember, or realize, that you're in somebody's actual home.
It all started from a simple urge: a desire to see some live music. Glazer had moved his young family to Orlando from Montreal in 1998 to take a job with Cirque du Soleil, and his schedule was so demanding that he couldn't get out to go to shows. So he and his wife, co-founder Elaine Corriveau, decided to take matters into their own hands, and began hosting concerts at their home in the Hunter's Creek neighborhood.
As these things often do, it snowballed, culminating in the Glazers buying property on the very end of Summerlin Avenue near downtown ("closer to the action," says Glazer) and putting their life savings toward construction of a house centered around a performance space designed and built by Glazer that would be a haven for music and visual arts. They built it and, to paraphrase Field of Dreams, performers and music enthusiasts in Orlando and far beyond came.
Glazer calls Timucua a home for the "chamber arts," which is, he explains, "music that's meant to be played in a more intimate environment." The space hosts around 100 events a year, and live-streams most of them for those who can't be there in person. During shows, Glazer can usually be found in the adjoining recording studio and control room, monitoring the feeds from several cameras.
"I think what sets us apart from some other venues is the wide range of what we offer – opera, plays, poetry, visual arts, every kind of music imaginable. This is what the people deserve," says Glazer. "We create an intimate environment to take in the art and the music."
Glazer now works full-time for the nonprofit Timucua Arts Foundation and its advisory board, and they're getting their money's worth. To hear him enthuse about design details, lighting, camera and speaker improvements, even the hunt to find the perfect vibraphone to buy for the venue backline, you begin to get an idea of how herculean this undertaking was and still is. But Glazer is just getting started.
"A lot of people think that this place is perfect, but I know it's not because I built it," he says matter-of-factly.
His plans for the future are ambitious. Glazer speaks excitedly about trying to build a viable touring circuit for musicians through the South in partnership with like-minded venues, building a permanent gallery space onto the house, doing a massive upgrade to the speakers and microphones in the concert space, and, eventually, launching the so-called "Benoit's Ark," a solar-powered floating concert hall.
"The day I stop wanting to improve," says Glazer amiably, "is the day I die." Then he's off to change some light switches, meet with an artist, and set up and tune the instruments for a show the next day. (timucua.com)
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